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' The ' Life of Christ ' has heen written by many writers, and with 
varied success. The scoffing infidel has followed the Evangelists, dis- 
torting facts, magnifying disagreements, misrepresenting claims, and 
maligning the very name of Jesus called the Christ, or denying his exist- 
ence altogether. The unbelieving admirer has passed over the same 
ground, to exalt the humanity and degrade the Divinity of the Son, in a 
curious medley of glowing apostrophe and scornful doubt The imagina- 
tive and devout writer has exhausted language in most exalted descrip- 
tions, at the expense of the matchless simplicity of the Saviour. The 
mere statistical and exact penman has followed the paths of the Messiah 
with scrupulous fidelity, in no point magnifying any thing, and in all 
things carefully explaining, with critical analysis, the grounds on which 
he bases his conclusions. Dr. Hanna's ' Life of our Lord ' avoids all these 
faults. He is neither ornate nor dull, neither creative nor statistical, 
neither captious nor credulous. Devout piety, humble reverence, and 
scholarly discrimination pervade the work throughout. A regulated and 
subdued imagination rounds out to its fulness the authentic life of 
Christ, and adds not one rhetorical sentence more, no matter how gnat 
the temptation or brilliant the idea might be. It is not that Dr. Hanna 
could not have burst the bounds of propriety, and glowed and flashed 
and radiated, as he portrayed the Messiah, as a powerful fancy Bright 
have dictated. But it is that his reverence and respect controlled his 
trained and disciplined mind, that it should not transcend the actual. 
Hence, the mellowed richness of description, the softened tints of por- 
traiture, the calm vividness of representation, the sweet picturesqnenrsa 
of narrative, which form the substance of the delicate and exquisite 
charm of the work." 















presswork by john wilson and son. 


This volume consists of Lectures which 
were delivered to the members of the Edin- 
burgh Philosophical Institution. The writer 
was thus precluded from dwelling upon the 
more purely religious aspects of the History 
of Protestantism in France. 


November 18, 1871. 



FRANCIS I. AND HE>*RY II., 1515-1559. 


Early History of the Reformation in France. Age of 
persecution. Character of Francis I. Extraordinary 
procession in Paris. Calvin's " Institutes." Massa- 
cres of Cabrieres and Merindol. Character of Henry 
H. Edict of Chateaubriand. Affair of the Rue St. 
Jacques. Anne du Bourg. Death of Henry H, . 11 


francis n., 1559-1560. 

Duke of Guise and Cardinal of Lorraine. Antony of 
Bourbon. Prince of Conde. Coligni. D'Andelot. 
Conspiracy of Amboise. The Assembly of Notables. 
Conde condemned. Death of Francis . , .38 



CHARLES IX., 1560-15(53 


Meeting of the States-General. Catherine's letter to the 
Pope. Colloquy of Poissy. Conference at Saverne. 
The massacre at Vassy. Coligni at Chatillon. 
Monti uc and Des Adrets. Battle of Dreux. Death 
of the Duke of Guise 76 



Kingdom of Navarre. Birth, education and marriage of 
Jeanne d'Albret. Birth of Henry IV. The Queen 
becomes a Protestant. Letter to the Cardinal D'Ar- 
magnac. Bull of the Pope. Plot of Philip II. 
Code of Laws. Conferences at Bayonne. Glimpses 
of Prince Henry. Breaking out of the war. Battle 
of St. Denis. The Queen, Prince Henry, and Conde 
at Rochelle. Battle of Jarnac. The Queen's address 
to the soldiers. Battle of Moncontour. Invasion of 
Navarre. Arnay-le-Duc. Proposed marriage of 
Prince Henry with Marguerite of Valois, sister of 
Charles IX. Illness and death of Jeanne d'Albret. 
Her character 110 


CHARLES IX., 1570-1572. 

Pope Pius V. Philip II. of Spain. How the peace of 
St. Germain-en-Laye was brought about. Proposal of 



breach with Spain. The anti-Spanish policy advo- 
cated by the Admiral. Conduct of Catherine de Med- 
icis and the Duke d'Anjou. Marriage of Henry of 
Navarre. Coligni wounded. Massacre of St. Bar- 
tholomew. Sieges of Rochelle and Sancerre. Par- 
ty of the Politique*. Francis Othman. Death of 
Charles IX 161 


henky in., 1574-1589. 

Origin of the League. Henry and his Mignona. Pro- 
jects of Philip II. of Spain. Alliance contracted at 
Joinville. Treaty of Nemours. Effect upon Henry 
of Navarre. Papal Bull against Henry, and his re- 
ply. Exploit at St. Foy. Interview with Catherine. 
Battle of Coutras. The day of the Barricades. 
The Spanish Armada. Meeting of the Estates at 
Blois. Assassination of the Duke of Guise. State 
of Paris. Interview of the two Henrys at Plessis-les- 
Tours. Arrival before Paris. Death of Henry III. . 208 


henky rv., 1589-1593. 

Acknowledgment of title. Arrangement with the Cath- . 
olic Lords. Their desertion. The battle of Arques. 
Siege of Paris. Relief of the city. Siege of 
Rouen. Adventure of the King. Triumph of Par- 
ma. Abjuration of Henry IV 249 



HENRY ir., 1593-1610. 


Entrance into Paris. Attempt at assassinating the King. 
Affair of Fontaine Francaise. Absolution by the 
Pope. Reception at Amiens. Siege of La Fere. 
Submission of Mayenne. Sully. Assembly of No- 
tables. Taking of Amiens. Recapture of the city. 
Close of the civil wars. Edict of Nantes. Peace of 
Vervins. Death of Marshal Biron. Ten years of 
peace. Their fruitful labors. Assassination of the 
King 288 




FRANCIS I. AND HENRY H, 1515-1559. 

Early History of the Reformation in France. Age of perse- 
cution. Character of Francis I. Extraordinary procession 
in Paris. Calvin's " Institutes." Massacres of Cabrieres 
and Merindol. Character of Henry II. Edict of Chateau- 
briand. Affair of the Rue St. Jacques. Anne du Bourg. 
Death of Henry II. 

Milman has remarked that throughout the 
world wherever the Teutonic is the groundwork 
of the language, Protestantism either is or, as in^ 
Southern Germany, has been dominant ; wherever 
Latin, Roman Catholicism has retained its ascend- 
ancy ; or, taking it geographically, that the Refor- 
mation gained all the Northern, the Papacy kept 
all the southern countries of Europe. France lies 
in the centre between the northern and the south- 
ern, the Teutonic and the Celtic tribes ; its popu- 
lation so mixed in origin and character that both 
tendencies were found in it, that which clung to, 


and that which recoiled from, Home. It was nat- 
ural, therefore, that France should be the country 
which the great religious movement of the sixteenth 
century divided and distracted beyond all others. 
It proved in fact the bloodiest battle-field of the 
Reformation, in which the opposing forces, when 
each had marshalled its full strength, were found 
to be the most nearly matched, and were thrown 
into the fiercest collision, victory trembling often 
in the balance, as scarce knowing on which side to 
fall. Nowhere else did the Reformation give birth 
to fifteen years of almost uninterrupted and most 
embittered civil war. 

Yet it was not till the year 1559 by which 
time in Germany, Switzerland, England, Scotland, 
Denmark, Sweden, all the great battles of the Ref- 
ormation had been fought, and all its great victo- 
ries won that it took any tangible shape in France, 
or originated any political movement. The first 
country in Europe in which the new doctrines had 
been taught, France was the last country in which 
they were embodied in an ecclesiastical institute, 
the last in which they proved the occasion of social 
strife and political division. This may partly have 
arisen from the weakened condition of the state. 
Fiance for the time had lost her leadership of Eu- 
ropean civilization. In the twelfth century she 
had headed the Crusades; the most brilliant in- 
tellectual lights of the thirteenth century shone in 
her great university ; her monarchshad triumphed 


in the fourteenth century in their contests for su- 
premacy with the Popes ; and in the fifteenth cen- 
tury it was she mainly that in the Councils of Pisa, 
Constance, and Basle, stood out successfully for the 
rights of the Church at large against the claims of 
the Roman Pontificate. But her step was not the 
foremost in the century of the Reformation. It 
was not within her bounds that the telescope was 
invented or the art of printing discovered ; it was 
not her ships that first doubled the Cape of Good 
Hope, and made their way across the Atlantic ; 
it was not her schools or universities that gave 
to art a Leonardo da Yinci, a Cardan and a Co- 
pernicus to science, an Erasmus to general liter- 

There were, however, more special reasons why 
in the great religious movement of the time France 
walked at first with a slow and lingering footstep. 
In other countries the Reformation found from the 
beginning some ecclesiastical or political support to 
lay its hand upon, by which to help itself forward. 
None such was found in France. The Church 
was not groaning there under the same bondage 
that elsewhere oppressed her; she had already 
fought for and so far achieved her independence, 
that no foreign ecclesiastics were intruded into her 
highest offices, nor were her revenues liable to be 
diverted at the will of the Pope into Italian chan- 
nels. Philip the Fair had two centuries before 
emancipated the monarchy from the hierarchical 


thraldom. Neither Church nor State had in France 
the same grounds of quarrel with Rome they had 
in other lands. There was less material there for 
the Reformers to work upon. With little to at- 
tract either King or Clergy, the Reformation had 
in its first aspects every thing to repel. The Church 
saw in it a denial of her authority, a repudiation 
of her doctrine, a simplification of her worship, an 
overturn of her proud and ambitious hierarchy. 
The Royal, power was in conflict with two enemies : 
the feudal independence of the nobles, which it 
wished to destroy ; the growing municipal freedom 
of the great cities, which it wished to curb. To 
both enemies of the Crown, the Reformation, it- 
self a child of liberty, promised to lend aid. Ab- 
solutism on the Throne looked on it with jealousy 
and dread. Alone and unbefriended, it had from 
the beginning to confront in France bitter persecu- 
tion, a persecution instigated in the first instance 
exclusively by the clerical body, afterwards by the 
Clergy and the Monarch acting in willing concert. 
For nearly half a century, from 1515 to 1559, 
during the reigns of Francis I. and Henry II., the 
history of French Protestantism offers nothing to 
the eye of the general historian but a series of at- 
tempts to crush it by violence. We scarcely won- 
der, therefore, Mignet should have said, that the 
religion* revolution proclaimed forty years before, 
by Luther on the banks of the Elbe, by Zuinglius 
on the lake side of Zurich, was not seriously entered 


on in France, till about the year 1560. 1 Neverthe- 
less, the forty previous years are as full of interest 
to onr eye as any equal period in the entire history 
of French Protestantism. They form its age of 
martyrdom. In no country, the Netherlands alone 
excepted, did Protestanism furnish so large and so 
noble an army of martyrs as in France. In Scot- 
land and England, the martyrs of the distinctively 
Eeformation-period were so few, that we can stand 
by every stake, and grave the name of every one 
who perished in the flames upon our memory. In 
the pages of Crespin and elsewhere, are described 
at large the death-scenes of many hundreds burned 
alive in France during these forty years. 

Besides being fitly described as its age of perse- 
cution, these first years of Protestanism in France 
may also fitly be described as its age of purity. 
The Eeformed had as yet no organization, civil or 
ecclesiastical; they had no Church, no creed, no 
fixed form of worship. They had entered into no 
political alliance with any party in the State. It 
was a quiet, hidden movement in the hearts of men, 
thirsting for religious truth, for peace of conscience, 
for purity of heart and life. They sought each 
other out, and met to help each other on. But it 
was in small bands, in closets with closed doors, in 
the murky lanes of the city, in the lonely hut by 
the wayside, in the gorge of the mountain, in the 

1 " Memoires Historiques," par M. Mignet : Paris, 1854, 
p. 255. 


heart of the forest, that they met to study the Scrip- 
tures together, to praise and pray. They did so at 
the peril of their lives, and the greatness of the peril 
guarded the purity of the motive. Ordinarily, they 
had no educated ministry. Those who as Luther 
and Melanchthon in Germany, Knox and others in 
Scotland, Zuinglius in Switzerland might have 
formed the nucleus of a new clerical institute, were 
either, like Lefevre, Farel, Calvin, forced into exile, 
or, like Chatelain, Pavanes, and Wolfgang Schuch, 
burnt at the stake. Left for a time without such 
guidance, the Reformers had to provide for relig- 
ious instruction, and for the administration of ordi- 
nances among them as best they could. Bernard 
Palissy, who was one of them, tells us in his own 
quaint and simple style how they did in his own 
town of Saintes. " There was in this town," he 
says, " a certain artisan marvellously poor [it is 
thus he describes himself], who had so great a de- 
sire for the advancement of the gospel, that he de- 
monstrated it, day by day, to another as poor as 
himself, and with as little learning for they both 
knew scarcely any thing. Nevertheless, the first 
urged upon the other, that if he would employ him- 
self in the making of some kind of exhortation, it 
would be productive of great good. The man ad- 
dressed thus, one Sabbath morning assembled nine 
or ten persons, and read to them some passages 
from tht'. <)M and New Testaments, which he. had 
put down in writing. He explained them, say- 


ing that as each one had received from God, he 
ought to distribute to others. They agreed that 
six of them should exhort, each once in the six 
weeks, on Sundays only. That was the beginning 
of the Keformed Church at Saintes ; " that, wc 
have to add, was the beginning of many other 
churches all over France, and that was the way in 
which they were often served- In France the 
Reformation began in the University. The letter- 
ed classes were the first to hail the new ideas that it 
taught. Many of the nobles their wars with one 
another now prohibited gave their leisure hours 
in their country castles to the reading of the Bible 
and of Lutheran tracts. But it was among men 
like Palissy, the skilled artisans of the towns and 
villages of France, that the Reformation made the 
greatest and the purest progress. " Above all," 
says a Catholic historian, " painters, watchmakers, 
sculptors, goldsmiths, printers, and others who, 
from their calling, have some mental superiority, 
were among the first taken in." 

To provide all who could read with the Scrip- 
ures, and religious books and tracts the writings 
especially of Calvin and of Luther, a prodigious ac- 
tivity was employed. The printing-presses of Ge- 
neva, Lausanne, Neufchatel, teemed witli such pro- 
ductions ; nor were there wanting brave men who 
took and bore them all through France, not a few 
of whom paid the forfeit of their lives for doing so. 
Under this simple regime, and amid all difficulties 


and disadvantages, the Reformation made such ex- 
traordinary progress, that at the death of Francis 
I., which took place in 1547, it largely leavened 
seventeen provinces, and thirty-three of the princi- 
pal towns in France, those who had embraced it 
forming about a sixth of the entire population of 
the country. 

"With Francis I. the middle ages ended, and the 
age of the renaissance commenced. The idol of his 
country, Francis was the living image of the times 
in which he lived, times that present to us a 
strange melange of barbarism and refinement, of 
chivalry and cruelty, of bloody wars and luxurious 
fetes. Francis was a brilliant soldier, but it was as 
a royal Bayard that he headed his troops in battle ; 
sleeping all night in full armor upon a gun-carriage 
at Marignano, that he might renew the conflict be- 
times next day. He was a King to whom the coun- 
try he ruled was dear ; but it was the military glory 
of France, her place of pre-eminence and power in 
Europe, that he mainly sought to guard, and elevate, 
and extend, type and model, in this respect, of 
many a successor upon the Gallic throne. As fond 
of gayety as of glory, he gathered round him so nu- 
merous and splendid a court, that we read of 130 
pages Mid 200 ladies, sons and daughters of the chief 
nobility, being in constant attendance at it. The 
number of horses required by it was 6000. In that 
Court he inaugurated the fatal reign of mistresses, 
so mischievous afterwards to France. But there too 


he showed himself the munificent patron of art and 
letters. He failed to bring Erasmus to Paris, but 
Leonardo da Yinci lived with him as a friend, and 
died in his monarch's arms. 

Neither naturally cruel, nor religiously a bigot, 
for the first twenty-five years of his reign he was 
rather favorable than otherwise to the Reformers. 
Lefevre, the father of the Reformation in France, 
was protected by him against the assaults of the Sor- 
bonne, and it was by a prompt and arbitrary exer- 
cise of the royal power, that the learned and high- 
spirited De Berquin was rescued out of the grasp 
of the Parliament of Paris. Francis enjoyed greatly 
the classic wit of Erasmus, and the coarser jests of 
Rabelais pointed against the Romish clergy. He 
was present at, and loudly applauded, a theatrical 
representation, in which the Pope and other high 
dignitaries of the Church were very roughly han- 
dled. He lent, for many a year, an open ear to the 
counsels of his wise and witty and gentle sister, 
Margaret of Yalois, whose mystic piety inclined her 
to Lutheranism. He allowed her favorite ministers 
to preach for a time under protection of the Court. 
She published a little volume "which the Sorbonne 
publicly condemned : the King resented this as an 
insult, and forced the University of Paris to disown 
the censure of the Sorbonne. Some monks had a 
play acted in their presence, in which Margaret, 
while sitting spinning and reading the Bible, was 
transfigured into a devil : the King inflicted on 


them a severe mark of displeasure. A popular or- 
ator of the Church proclaimed from one of the Pa- 
risian pulpits, that Margaret deserved to be en- 
closed in a sack and thrown into the Seine : Fran- 
cis doomed the preacher to that punishment. It 
was only the intervention of Margaret herself that 
saved him. So far did Francis go, in manifesting a 
favorable disposition to the Protestants, that he 
wrote with his own hand to Melanchthon, ear- 
nestly soliciting him to come and settle in Paris. 

The battle of Pavia, however, fought and lost in 
1525, was in this, as in other respects, a turning- 
point in the King's history. He was carried a 
prisoner into Spain. He returned next year to 
France, soured as well as saddened in spirit, having 
fresh difficulties to contend with, and a new edge 
set upon his ambition. He opened his ear to his 
mother Louisa of Savoy, to the Prelates, to the Par- 
liament of Paris, by all of whom he was assured 
that the calamities of the country sprung from the 
growth of heresy, that the Reformers were enemies 
of the Crown as well as of the Church. The mar- 
riage of his son Henry with Catherine de Medicis, 
the niece of the reigning Pope, and his personal 
interview with the Pontiff at Marseilles in 1533 
drew him into closer relationship with the Holy 
See. He at last openly declared, that in his realm 
there should be but one King, one law, one faith. 
He was heard to say of Lutheranism, that that sect, 
and others like it, tended more to the overthrow 


of governments than the good of souls. Still, how- 
ever, the force of earlier feelings, the sway not yet 
departed of Margaret's graceful wit and devoted 
love, and still more, perhaps, the weighty political 
considerations that in his life-long struggle with 
Charles V. led him to cultivate the friendship of 
the Protestant Princes of Germany, might have 
held him back from taking personally any part in 
the persecution of the Protestants, had not a rash 
deed of their own, touching the most sensitive part 
of his character, turned dislike into bitter hatred. 

On the 18th of October 1534, the inhabitants 
of Paris, on going out into the streets in the morn- 
ing, found the walls of their houses and the corners 
of their squares covered with placards denouncing, 
in the most virulent language, " the horrible, great, 
and unbearable abuses of the Popish mass." The 
eye of the King fell upon one of these placards 
posted on the door of his own cabinet. He felt 
this as a personal insult, and finding his passion 
seconded by the anger of the citizens, he gave in- 
stant orders to search for and pimish, summarily, 
not only those who had taken part in affixing 
the offensive placards, but all who acknowledged 
or favored Lutheranism. The search was made, a 
number of the guilty found, and the utmost pains 
were taken to make their punishment impressive 
to the public eye. 

Between eight and nine o'clock on the morning 
of the 21st January 1535, an extraordinary proces- 


sion issued from the Church of St. Germain l'Aux- 
errois in Paris, headed by a company of priests, 
bearing in coffers upon cushions of velvet the most 
precious relics of saints and martyrs. For the first 
time since the funeral-day of St. Louis, the Rel- 
iquary of La Sainte-Chapeile exposed its treasures 
to the public eye. There was the head of St. 
Louis ; a piece of the true Cross ; the crown of 
thorns; the spear-head that had pierced the Sa- 
viour's side. Ecclesiastics of every order, Cardinals, 
Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Monks, all clad in 
their richest robes, followed the relics. The Bish- 
op of Paris bore on high the Holy Sacrament. 
Then came the King, his head uncovered, and in 
his hand a large burning torch of virgin wax. 
Princes of the blood, nobles of all ranks, the high 
court of Parliament, the foreign ambassadors, the 
great officers of State, came after the King. The 
oldest inhabitant of Paris had never seen so impos- 
ing a cortege, nor such a multitude gathered to 
gaze on it. Not a house-top but was crowded, not 
a jutting projection that could support a spectator 
but was occupied ; the windows all filled with faces, 
the streets all paved with heads. With slow and 
solemn pace the great procession moved on through 
the principal streets of the city. Six times it stop- 
ped, each time before a temporary altar, decked 
with its crucifix, its candlesticks and flowers. Be- 
side each altar, had the common custom been obey- 
ed, fair children dressed as angels, emblems of 


Heaven's love to man, should have appeared. But 
now beside each altar there was a pile of blazing 
fagots, above which there was an iron beam, turn- 
ing on a pivot, and so movable by pulleys that it 
could be lifted and lowered at pleasure. To each 
of these beams a Lutheran had been attached, the 
executioner instructed to plunge him occasionally 
into the scorching flames, so as to prolong his suf- 
ferings, and to time these terrible dippings into 
the fire in such a way that the fastenings which 
bound the victim should be consumed, and he fall 
into the flames at the moment when the procession 
stopped and the King stood before the gibbet. 
Six times the King thus paused, handing each 
time his torch to the Cardinal of Lorraine, clasping 
his hands and prostrating himself in prayer as the 
heretic was burned. 

The tidings of what Paris saw that day were 
borne over Europe. The Protestant Princes of 
Germany remonstrated with Francis. He excused 
himself by saying that " he had been constrained 
to use this rigor against certain rebels who wished 
to trouble the State under the pretext of religion" 
the one great excuse of despots, which on this 
occasion called forth a momorable reply. A few 
months afterwards (August 1535) a volume issued 
from the press at Basle. Its author's name was not 
upon the title-page. It opened with a dedicatory 
epistle to Francis, and bore to be throughout an 
apology for the Protestants of France, to redeem 


their faith from the charge of fanaticism, their 
conduct from the charge of sedition. "This," 
said its author afterwards, "was what led me to 
publish it : first, to relieve my brethren from an 
unjust accusation, and then, as the same sufferings 
still hung over the heads of many poor faithful 
ones in France, that foreign nations might be 
touched with commiseration for their woes, and 
might open to them a shelter." " If the act," says 
Michelet, speaking of this volume, "was bold, no 
less so was the style. The new French language 
was then an unknown tongue. Yet here, twenty 
years after Comines, thirty years before Montaigne, 
we have already the language of Rousseau; his 
power, if not his charm. But the most formidable 
attribute of the volume is its penetrating clearness, 
its brilliance of steel rather than of silver ; a blade 
which shines, but cuts. One sees that the light 
comes from within, from the depth of the con- 
science, from a spirit rigorously convinced, of which 
logic is the food. One feels that the author gives 
nothing to appearance ; that he labors to find a sol- 
id argument upon which he can live, and, if need 
be, die." The work thus characterized by so capa- 
ble, at least by so unprejudiced a judge, was Cal- 
vin's " Institutes of the Christian Religion." Its 
diffident and retiring author was then in his twen- 
ty-sixth year, and had been seeking, as he himself 
tells, some hiding-place from the world where he 
might pursue his studies at leisure. But that boo c 


once published, he could be hidden no longer. He 
was hailed at once by all the Reformers of France 
not only as the apologist of the martyrs, but as the 
theologian and legislator of the Church. 

The invasion of France in 1536 ; the tempora- 
ry reconciliation of the two great European rivals ; 
their four days' interview at Aigues Mortes ; the 
breaking out of the war almost immediately after- 
wards, kept the hands of Francis too full to be 
turned against the Lutherans. From 1536 to 1513, 
the persecution languished. At last the peace of 
Crespy set both Charles and Francis free to pursue 
an object upon which both had now set their hearts, 
and which they mutually encouraged each other to 
prosecute the utter extirpation of heretics in their 
respective dominions. In France the first blow 
fell upon an innocent and secluded community. 

Well nigh three hundred years before this time 
a colony of the Yaudois, survivors of the terrible 
crusade of Innocent III., driven from Dauphiny 
and Piedmont, had settled in Provence. They oc 
cupied a district on the banks of the Durance, in 
the high lands between Nice and Avignon. They 
found it bleak and sterile. The industry of suc- 
cessive generations turned it into a garden olives, 
vines, almond-trees, clothed their hill-sides, and the 
breed of their mountain cattle was in demand 
through all the country round. Their tribute to 
the King, their dues to their liege lords, were paid 
with exemplary regularity. There was nothing to 


expose them to the jealousy of their rulers. But 
their pure and simple faith rendered them obnox- 
ious to the Roman Catholic population by which 
they were surrounded. As Louis XII. was passing 
through Dauphiny, they were denounced to him as 
heretics. He ordered an inquiry to be instituted 
into their character and habits, and when the re- 
sult was before him, he ordered the process against 
them to be cast into the Rhine, saying, " These 
people are much better Christians than myself." 
Tidings of the great religious movement in Germa- 
ny and Switzerland reached them. Their hearts 
were stirred. They sent deputies to confer with 
(Ecolampadius in Basle, with Bucer at Strasburg, 
with Haller at Berne. The report of these depu- 
ties led them at once to hail Luther and Zuinglius, 
and the Reformers in their own land, as of the 
same faith with themselves. Throwing themselves 
into the great movement of their age, they felt that 
their own country has the first claim upon their re- 
gard. But what could a small community of peas- 
ants in a remote region do ? It was told them 
that a translation of the Bible into the French 
tongue had just been finished by one of their coun- 
trymen, Peter Olivetan, but that a pecuniary dif- 
ficulty had arisen as to carrying it through the 
press. They resolved to undertake the cost, raised 
1500 golden crowns, and had the first edition of the 
French Bible published at their expense at Neuf- 
chatel. Hundreds of copies passed instantly iuto 


France, and contributed more, perhaps, than any 
single instrument to the spread of the Reformation. 
Identified now with the Lutherans, a terrible sen- 
tence was pronounced against them by the Parlia- 
ment of Aix. It decreed " that the villages of 
Merindol, Cabrieres, and Les Aigues, and all other 
places the retreat and receptacle of heretics, should 
be destroyed, the houses razed to the ground, the 
forest-trees cut down, the fruit-trees torn up by the 
roots, the principal inhabitants executed, and the 
women and children banished forever out of the 
land." Francis hesitated long before he consented 
to sanction this ; but at last, in an evil hour in 1545, 
he gave instructions that the sentence should be 
executed. The Baron d'Oppede, to whom the ex- 
ecution of it was committed, made his preparations 
with the utmost secrecy. Six regiments of mer- 
cenaries, trained to murder and pillage in the Ital- 
ian wars, were collected. A company of cavalry 
was placed under the Baron de la Garde, a captain 
notorious for his ferocity. These troops, despatch- 
ed in bands so as to surround the district, were 
launched upon the unprepared and unsuspecting 
Yaudois, with no other instructions than to burn 
and pillage, and kill at random. Taken unawares, 
the inhabitants of the first village they fell upon, 
man, woman, and child, were massacred. The 
light of their burning villages gave warning to the 
others. In Merindol, one of the two chief towns, 
but a single man was found. He was a poor sim- 


.pleton, and had given himself- up to one of the sol 
diers, to whom he had promised a few crowns for 
his ransom. D'Oppede heard of it, paid himself 
the ransom, had the man tied up to a tree and shot. 
From Cabrieres, the other chief town, the bulk of 
the inhabitants had fled. Sixty men, and about 
thirty women, remained in -it. It was a walled 
town, and for twenty-four hours held out against 
the soldiers. Their lives were promised to its de- 
fenders, and they gave themselves up unarmed. 
They were cut to pieces on the spot. The women 
were shut up in a barn filled with straw, which 
was set on fire. One soldier, touched with pity, 
opened for those within a way of escape. But his 
companions were merciless. Whosoever tried to 
escape was thrust back by pike and halbert. They 
all perished in the flames. Night and day the 
murderous work went on. Within a week or two 
twenty villages had been destroyed, and four thou- 
sand of their inhabitants had been slaughtered. 
Those whom fire and sword had spared, wandered 
in the mountains and the woods. There were no 
fruits for them to gather, for it was yet early spring. 
Many perished from hunger. The miserable sur- 
vivors besought D'Oppede to allow them to return 
to Germany. "We will give up every thing," 
they said to him, " but the clothes upon our back." 
Their request was contemptuously denied. "I 
know what I have to do with you," he replied ; I 
will send every one of you to hell, and make such 


a havoc of you that your memory will be cut off 
forever." Numbers fell into their hands. After 
the mockery of a brief trial, 250 of them were on 
one occasion executed together. La Garde select- 
ed 600 of the finest young men and sent them to 
the galleys, where the treatment given them was 
such that in a few weeks 200 of them died. It 
was but a miserable remnant that, escaping lire, 
sword, famine, fatigue, the galleys, made their way 
into the land of the stranger. A houseless, tree- 
less, scorched and barren wilderness was left, where 
the vines, and the olives, and the almond-trees had 
flourished, where the homes and the families of the 
Yaudois had been. 

The tale of that wholesale butchery was one that 
Francis never liked to hear. The image of it haunt- 
ed his deathbed. He left instructions to his son 
Henry to inquire into a deed that he felt had sul- 
lied his reign, and to punish the perpetrators. 
Three years after his death, but not at Henry's in- 
stance, the matter was brought before the Parlia- 
ment at Paris. Fifty sittings of that Court were de- 
voted to it. D'Oppede was acquitted. One of his 
officials was indeed condemned, not for the part he 
had taken in the massacre, but because it was found 
that he had filched a portion of the public treasure. 

Francis died in 1547. His eldest son having 
died some years before, his second son, Henry, as- 
cended the throne. Henry had a showy exterior, 
was expert in all manly exercises, could run, could 


ride, could chase the deer, could break the lance 
with the most expert performer in the lists, the best 
trained knight of the tournament. Nor was he al- 
together deficient either in talent or in industry. 
He gave hours each day to the public business of 
the State. But he had none of the qualities of a 
great prince. In boyhood, it might be said in 
childhood, he had given himself up to the empire 
of Diana of Poitiers ; and that empire, one of the 
most singular that even French history, prolific in 
such instances, presents, lasted undiminished 
through life. When under eighteen years of age, 
he married Catherine de Medicis, but marriage did 
not shake his early attachment, nor did his wife ap- 
parently desire that it should. Diana became the 
friend and protectress of Catherine, and for more 
than twenty years that subtle Italian bided quietly 
her time, consenting murmuringly to occupy her 
most anomalous position ; the mother of the King's 
children, but in no sense the Queen of France. 

Henry was twenty-eight years old when his 
father died. Diana was twenty years his senior. 
It was she who in 1547 ascended the throne, and 
for the twelve years of Henry's reign it was she 
who ruled ; a rule fatal to the Protestants, whom, 
with a touch of the Herodias spirit, she both hated 
and feared. One other only shared her influence 
with the King, the Constable de Montmorency, 
an early friend of Henry's, disliked by Francis and 
excluded by him from power, but now recalled to 


take his place in the Council, and to become the 
chief adviser of the King. Montmorency, who 
prided himself on being the descendant of the first 
Christian Baron of France, was at one with Diana 
in her dislike of the Protestants, and under their 
joint instigation, Henry launched at once upon the 
career of the persecutor. 

On the 27th January 1551, an edict against the 
Lutherans was issued, known by the name of the 
Edict of Chateaubriand. 1 Tsot only was the old law 
of St. Louis dooming all heretics to death, which 
had all along been acted on, renewed in this edict, 
but the secular and the ecclesiastical courts were 
equally empowered to judge in cases of heresy, so 
that though absolved by the one, the accused might 
be carried before the other and condemned. All 
intercession on behalf of the condemned was pro- 
hibited. The sentences were to be executed with- 
out delay and without appeal. To encourage in- 
formers, the third part of the goods of the con- 
demned was to be appropriated to them. Heavy 
punishments were to be inflicted upon all who intro- 
duced into the realm, or were found possessed of, any 
book in which the new doctrines were inculcated. 
The entire property of the refugees who had left 
France to escape the persecution was confiscated to 
the Crown. To send money or letters to them was 
forbidden ; and finally, every one even suspected 

1 See " Histoire Chronologique de l'Eglise Protestante de 
France," par Charles Drion, t. i. p. 45. Paris, 1855. 


of heresy was obliged to present a certificate of 

The whole machinery of persecution was put 
into full operation all over France, one spring act- 
ing with peculiar potency, for Diana, Montmor- 
ency, and other favorite courtiers it was a profita- 
ble employment to persecute, as the confiscated es- 
tates found their way into their hands. One step 
only remained to be taken to place France abreast 
of Spain : a royal edict was drawn up establishing 
the Inquisition. Presented to the Parliament of 
Paris it encountered there an unexpected opposi- 
tion. Seguier, the President of the Parliament, 
in communicating to Henry its refusal to register 
the decree, had the boldness to say to the King (I 
quote the words as the first indication in France 
of the true idea of toleration), " We take the liberty 
to add that since these punishments on account of 
religion have failed, it seems to us conformable to 
the rules of equity and right reason to follow here 
the footsteps of the early Church, which never em- 
ployed fire and sword to establish or extend itself, 
but a pure doctrine and an exemplary life. We 
think, therefore, that your Majesty should exclu- 
sively apply yourself to preserve religion by the 
same means by which it was first established." 

The King was forced unwillingly to yield. 
Other matters besides engrossed him. More fortu- 
nate than his father, he had seen, in the early part 
of his reign, the arms of France and her confeder- 


ates triumph over those of the empire ; the Empe- 
ror himself on the edge of being taken prisoner at 
Innspruck ; and the peace of Cambrai established. 
But the fortune of war had changed. The disas- 
trous battle of St. Quentin that fatal Flodden 
Field of France in which the flower of her chival- 
ry perished, laid her at the feet of Spain. At Par- 
is, the greatest consternation prevailed. Thej fan- 
cied they heard the enemy already at their gates. 
Superstition took advantage of the national disas^ 
ter. The priesthood inflamed the spirit of the mob. 
Late in the evening of the 4th September 1557, 
a few weeks after the tidings of the battle of St. 
Quentin had reached Paris, three or four hundred 
Lutherans met to partake secretly of the Lord's 
Supper, in a house in the Rue St. Jacques. The 
buildings of the Sorbonne stood near. Some mem- 
bers of the college, struck at the sight of so many 
people from such different quarters going into the 
same building at so late an hour, suspected the char- 
acter of the meeting, watched till all had entered, 
then hurried from house to house, raised the multi- 
tude, and set afloat the most frightful tales as to 
what the Lutherans had met to do. The streets 
aroimd soon filled with a mob excited to the highest 
pitch. Piles of stones were heaped together ; hasty 
preparations made for assault. About midnight, 
the service being over, those engaged in it prepared 
to depart. The doors were opened. It was the sig- 
nal for a fiendish shout and a shower of stones. 


Torches brandished in the air shone on faces glow- 
ing with passion, and showed the streets blocked up 
with men armed with all kinds of weapons. The 
doors were shut, and there was a short deliberation- 
The bravest of the Lutherans, rather than abide the 
issue of an assault, determined to force a passage. 
Drawing their swords, they dashed out upon the 
crowd ; it gave way before them ; one only of their 
number fell, whose mutilated body was exposed for 
days to the outrages of the multitude. About 200 
persons, chiefly women, remained within the build- 
ing. In vain they supplicated mercy. The doors 
had been already forced, and the work of slaughter 
was beginning when the city authorities arrived. 
They seized all found within, and bound them in 
couples, to carry them to prison. It was through a 
perfect hail of missiles of all kinds, their clothes all 
torn, their bodies covered with blood and filth, that 
the prisoners at last reached the jail. Seven of 
their number soon perished at the stake ; for more 
of them the same doom was ready, when foreign in- 
tervention, which Henry at the time dared not de- 
spise, stayed its execution. 

The year 1559, a memorable one in the history 
of Protestantism in France, opened with the inglo- 
rious treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, entered into be- 
tween France and Spain. A secret article, append- 
ed to that treaty, concocted by the two great cleri- 
cal persecutors, the Cardinals of Lorraine and Gran- 
ville, bound the two monarchs to employ the whole 


force of their kingdom in the extermination of the 
heretics. The later history of the Low Conn- 
tries proved the faithfulness of Philip II. to that en- 
gagement. His brother of France showed no want 
of alertness or vigor in following the same course. 
The treaty was signed on the 3d April. On the 
12th of the same month letters-patent were sent to 
all the provinces, in which the King said " I de- 
sire nothing more than the total extermination of 
this sect ; to cut its roots up so completely that new 
ones may never rise again ; have no pity then nor 
compassion, but punish them as they deserve." 

The authorities were generally but too ready to 
carry out the royal instructions. One instance, 
however, of hesitation appeared. The Parliament 
of Paris was divided into two sects the Great 
Chamber and the Tournelle. The former called for 
the infliction of death without mercy upon all here- 
tics. The latter, when four young men were con- 
victed before it of holding some of the new opin- 
ions, sentenced them not to death but to exile. Such 
leniency was appalling. It showed something fatal- 
ly wrong in the court that could extend it. It was 
whispered that the heretic leaven had infected some 
of its members. The names of the suspected were 
privately presented to the King. The Cardinal of 
Lorraine, who had been telling Henry that the true 
way for him to cover before God and man all the 
vices to which he might abandon himself, was to root 
out the adversaries of the Romish Church, now took 


upon him to become his monarch's counsellor. 
" You must lay a snare lor these dangerous men 
call a Mercuriale ; invite them all to speak freely 
out their sentiments, and then punish them upon 
their own confession. The burning of half a dozen 
heretic members of Parliament will be a pleasant 
sight to the Duke of Alva and the Spanish gran- 
dees, who are now in Paris." The King took the 
Cardinal's advice. A meeting of both Chambers 
of Parliament was held. Henry himself presided. 
The amplest encouragement was held out by the 
King to every one to speak his mind without re- 
serve. The snare succeeded but too well. One 
member of the house, Anne du Bourg, distinguished 
himself by the openness and boldness of his re- 
marks. " One sees committed," says he, " every 
day crimes of all kinds which are left unpunished, 
while those guilty of no crime are dragged to the 
slake. It is no light thing to condemn to the flames 
those who in the midst of them invoke the name of 
Jesus Christ." The conference at last closed, the 
King rose to depart, but as he went, and by his or- 
der, the Constable advanced, laid his hand upon Du 
Bourg and four others who had been guilty of the 
same license of speech, and committed them to the 
Captain of the Guard to be carried to the Bastile. 

A few senators were thus secured to grace the 
festivities the Court was holding in honor of the 
two marriages that of Philip of Spain with 
Henry's daughter Elizabeth, and that of the young 


Dauphin of France with our own Mar}- of Scotland. 
Among these festivities was the Tournament, in 
which the Kins delighted to exhibit his own skill 
in arms. The lists were erected in the Rue St. 
Jacques. Henry had encountered one and another 
of his nobles, who gracefully yielded to him the 
palm of victory. To make a last display of his 
prowess, he insisted on Montgomery, the stout 
Scottish knight, breaking a lance with him. Mont- 
gomery sought to be excused, but the King insisted. 
They met ; grasped by a strong hand, the knight's 
well-laid and well-aimed lance struck the visor of 
the King, and was broken by the shock. A splin- 
ter of it pierced the eyehole of the visor, and pen- 
etrated the brain. A shrill cry of pain was heard, 
the King sunk down upon his saddle, and a few 
days afterwards expired (10th July 1559). 



FRANCIS II., 1559-1560. 

Duke of Guise and Cardinal of Lorraine. Antony of Bourbon. 
Prince of Conde. Coligni. D'Andelot. Conspiracy of 
Amboise. The Assembly of Notables. Conde condemned. 
Death of Francis. 

It was during the reign of Henry II. that the 
seeds were sown of all those dissensions by which 
France was torn asunder for so many years after his 
death. The Court had become corrupt. " Almost 
every vice," says Mezeray, " which tends to the 
ruin of great States reigned in this Court : luxury, 
immodesty, libertinism, blasphemy, and that im- 
pious curiosity which seeks the secrets of futurity 
in the detestable illusions of magic." The Crown 
had fallen into contempt. The Princes of the blood 
and the higher nobility, all power being withdrawn 
from them to be bestowed upon a few reigning 
favorites, were alienated. The highest offices of 
State were shamelessly bought and sold. The foun- 
tains of justice, the courts of law, had become 
tainted with the prevailing venality. The wars 
with the House of Austria, the lavish expenditure 
of the Court upon idle shows, the want of any fixed 


sources of royal income, the expedients that were 
adopted to meet existing difficulties, had drained 
the public treasury, plunged the monarchy in debt, 
and created an inextricable financial confusion. In 
the midst of all this Henry was cut off. Francis, 
his eldest son, a youth not sixteen years old, suc- 
ceeded. The Government of France lay open to 
the hands that were the first to grasp and that had 
the power to hold it. Let us cast a glance around 
upon the leading men who now step upon the 

Forty-six years before this time, Claude, fifth son 
of Rene, Duke of Lorraine, entered France. He 
came to take possession of extensive estates in that 
country, left to him at his father's death, and to es- 
tablish there a separate branch of his family, as the 
houses of Mantua and Savoy did in the persons of 
the Dukes of Xevers and Kemours. Among the 
captains whom Francis I. gathered round him in 
his wars, Claude speedily distinguished himself, at- 
taining the rank of a General at an age when many 
of the bravest scions of the nobility were only pass- 
ing through military apprenticeship as knights. At 
the head of a small band of followers he once pene^ 
trated the English camp, and left five or six hun- 
dred dead behind him as the trophies of his success. 
During the captivity of Francis in Spain, he sur- 
prised 10,000 German JReiter in their march to 
Kenfchateau, and cut them to pieces. He turned 
his sword next upon 15,000 German communists 


who had penetrated France, and disposed of them 
in such a way that not more than a thousand were 
left to carry home the news of their enterprise. He 
hastened then to the relief of the terrified inhabi- 
tants of Paris, who saw an English army within a 
few leagues of their ramparts, threw himself into 
the city, and by saving it forged the first link of 
that chain that attached the Parisians to his family. 
When twelve years old, he had seen his mother, 
Philippa of Gueldres, lay aside riches and honors, 
part from her seven young children, and not in dis- 
appointment or chagrin, but on the impulse of an 
intense pietism, retire into a cloister. From her he 
inherited that fanatical attachment to the ancient 
faith which in his warlike heart turned into a de- 
sire to bathe his hands in the blood of heretics. For 
good or for evil, he linked his fortunes with those 
of the Papacy, and in doing so marked out for his 
sons the path they followed. Francis at last gave 
him a place in the French Peerage, by creating him 
first Duke of Guise. His fortunate marriage with 
Antoinette de Bourbon, sister of Charles, first Duke 
of Yendome, associated him with the ancient no- 
bility, who nevertheless always looked on him as 
an intruder within their domain. Despite their 
jealousy, by his talents and address he won for 
his family the highest positions in Church and 
State. His daughter Mary, married to James Y. 
of Scotland, became the mother of Mary Stuart. 
Six sons grew up around him, sharers of his fanat- 


icism, his ambition, his talents, and his success. 
Two of them became Dukes, two rose to be Cardi- 
nals, one is known to history as the Marquis d'El- 
bceuf, and another as the Grand Prior. It was tho 
two eldest, Francis who succeeded his father as sec- 
ond Duke of Guise, and Charles the Cardinal of 
Lorraine, who played so conspicuous a part in the 
religious wars of France. Before he died, Francis 
I. had warned his son Henry against these two 
young men, whose ambition, he feared, might be- 
come dangerous to the monarchy. Henry did not 
heed the warning. Under his patronage the young 
Duke of Guise rose to share the command of the 
French armies with the Constable Montmorency. 
His gallant and successful defence of Metz against 
all the forces that Charles Y. could muster ; his 
victories at Renti, and above all his capture ot 
Calais his wresting out of the hands of the Eng- 
lish that last relic of their victories in France cov- 
ered him with glory, and made him the idol of the 
people. Skilful, courageous, successful as a soldier, 
he had little capacity as a politician. "Wliat he 
wanted, his brother amply possessed, and under the 
Cardinal's guidance, Francis put himself at the head 
of the ultra-Catholic party. Sincere in his religious 
belief, but grossly ignorant, he was ready at com- 
mand to march in any direction, to draw the sword 
and strike any blow, if only once assured that the 
double object was to be gained thereby the Church's 
interests served, and his own family exalted. There 


was nothing, however, mean or double in his nature. 
Choleric, at times brutal in his rage, he had withal 
that generous nature which knows to pity a fallen 
enemy and forgive the deepest wrong. 

His brother Charles, the Cardinal, was fashioned 
after a different mould. Invited by the King, at 
the age of three-and-twenty, to take part in the 
management of public affairs, he ingratiated him- 
self with Diana of Poitiers, and rose rapidly at 
Court. He had every qualification for a courtier 
an imposing exterior, a graceful address, a fertile 
and playful wit, a copious and persuasive eloquence. 
The Italians, the Spaniards, the Germans, the 
English, the Dutch, all noticed with admiration 
the fluency and accuracy with which their different 
languages were spoken by him. The successes and 
high alliances of his family ; the marriage of his 
sister to the King of Scotland, and then of his 
niece with the heir-apparent to the French throne, 
fed that ambition which developed all the vices of 
his character. He gave himself to the pursuit of 
power. In that pursuit he displayed the quickest 
foresight, extraordinary subtlety ; the talents, how- 
ever, rather of the diplomatist than of the states- 
man ; but he displayed at the same time selfishness, 
meanness, cowardice, cruelty. Insolent and over- 
bearing when things went well, he sank under ad- 
versity into the sycophant and flatterer. " Come, 
tell us," said one of the ladies of honor to whom 
he had been speaking in a very humble and gra- 


cious manner, " Come, tell ns, what great misfor- 
tune has befallen you that you are speaking to us 
in that way i " His cowardice was so notorious, 
that to cover it he made it the subject of his own 
pleasantry. He was the chief persecutor of the 
Huguenots, but he had not the excuse of the fa- 
natic in becoming so. His faith was as versatile 
as his intellect ; now, he could preach the highest 
doctrines of the Papacy, and again, so that the Lu- 
therans could find nothing to condemn. 

Opposed to the Guises stood the Princes of the 
House of Bourbon. This house, which ascended 
the French throne in the person of Henry I Y., and 
gave afterwards so many kings to France and Spain 
and Naples, took its origin from Robert, sixth son 
of St. Louis (Louis IX.), who married Beatrix the 
heiress of Bourbon ; Bourbon being originally a 
simple barony, which in 1327 was erected into a 
duchy in favor of Louis, Robert's eldest son. In 
the succession to the French throne, this family 
stood next to the reigning family of the Yalois. 
Jealousies between the two houses had arisen. In 
the reign of Francis I., the Constable of Bourbon 
openly revolted. His failure and disgrace ex- 
cluded, for a time, all members of his family from the 
higher offices of the State. Under the reign ot 
Francis' successor, they had hoped to be restored 
to their natural position in the monarchy, but the 
Court influences were against them. They remain- 
ed excluded from the government. The Guises 


had taken a chief part in that exclusion, and had 
usurped the places that should have been theirs. 
The Bourbons counted them as their enemies. 
Subject themselves to a political persecution, they 
sympathized with those of their fellow-countrymen 
who were exposed to a religious one, a sympathy 
not lessened by the circumstance that the Guises 
headed the persecution. 

Antony of Bourbon was now the head of the 
family. By his marriage with Jeanne d'Albret, 
daughter of Margaret, the favorite sister of Francis 
I., he became King of Navarre. Shortly before 
the death of Henry, Antony had abjured the Roman 
Catholic religion, and openly professed himself a 
Protestant. The cause of Protestantism, however, 
lost more than it gained by the accession of a man 
so weak and vain and vacillating, yet so ambitious, 
who, pleased for the time by being hailed as the 
head of a party, had none of the energy or resolu- 
tion needful for that post. The crown he wore 
did not sit firmly upon his head, and it was a crown 
with but little of a kingdom : half of the old terri- 
tory of Navarre having been annexed to Spain. 
Knowing all Antony's weaknesses, and determined 
to detach him from Protestantism, Philip II. held 
out the threat, that if he persevered in heading the 
Huguenots, the half that he still possessed should 
likewise be annexed. And now, he promised that 
if he deserted the Huguenots, and united with the 
Guises for their extermination, he would give back 


the appropriated half, or, better still, would give 
him a new kingdom. that of Sardinia, of whose 
extent and wealth fabulous accounts were given. 
Antony yielded, returning into the bosom of the 
Church, but there was no enlargement of his king- 

The attachment to the reformed doctrine of his 
younger brother, Louis Prince of Conde, was more 
sincere and steadfast. There was little in that doc- 
trine to attract such a laughter-loving, pleasure- 
loving, gay, and gallant youth as Conde was. But 
he was chivalrously honorable; there was depth 
as well as liveliness in his character, and wayward 
and wild as his conduct often was, his religious con- 
victions appear to have been genuine and strong. 
He could never, at least, be induced to renounce 
them. Bribes of all kinds were held out to tempt 
him to do so ; bribes that, to one so poor, must 
have been very tempting, but he spurned them in- 
dignantly away. 

Another family, inferior in rank to the Bour- 
bons, lent to the cause of Protestantism a purer and 
more efficient aid. The Marquis de Chatillon was 
the head of a family that for nearly 500 years had 
been mixed up with all the great political move- 
ments of their country. He died in 1522 in the 
service of Francis I., leaving his widow, a sister of 
the Constable Montmorency, with three sons, Odet, 
Gaspard, and Francis. AVhen the eldest of the 
boys was but sixteen years old, a Cardinal's hat 


was placed by the Pope at the disposal of the Con- 
stable, to be given to one of his nephews. It should 
naturally have fallen either to Gaspard or to Fran- 
cis. Both, however, young as they were, showed 
an invincible repugnance to accept of it. Their el- 
der brother, who was of a gentler nature, was in- 
duced to do so. To the Cardinalship, the rich Bish- 
opric of Beauvais was forty years afterwards an- 
nexed. Finding himself so well provided for, Odet 
generously ceded all his patrimonial rights to his 
younger brothers. Gaspard became thus the head 
of the family of Chatillon, taking the title of Count 
of Coligni, from a village in Franche-Comte, an an- 
cient possession of his house. 

Coligni was early introduced at Court, under 
the auspices of his uncle the Constable. That gay 
court-life had little or no charm for this thoughtful, 
studious, retiring, and somewhat austere youth. 
He formed there but a single friendship, that with 
the young Duke of Guise, out it did not last long. 
The Duke one day asked Coligni's opinion as to 
the projected marriage of one of his brothers, with 
a daughter of the Duchess of Yalentinois (Diana 
of Poitiers). " I would prefer," said Coligni, " an 
honored name to all the riches a woman could 
bring into my family." In his twenty-fourth year 
Coligni entered upon his military career. Distin- 
guishing himself in Flanders, he served as a volun- 
teer in the army of Italy, and displayed such bravery 
in the bloody tight at Cerisoles that he was knight- 

FRA2^CIS U. 47 

ed on the field. Keturning to Paris in 154:7. he 
married a daughter of the illustrious house of Laval. 
The accession of Henry II. to the throne brought 
with it fresh addition to his honors. He was ap- 
pointed Colonel-General of the French infantry. In 
that office he matured and introduced those military 
ordinances, of which Brantdme says, that " they were 
the best and most politic that have ever been made 
in France, and, I believe, have preserved the lives 
of a million of persons, for, till then, there was noth- 
ing but pillage, brigandage, murders, and quarrels, 
so that the companies resembled hordes of wild 
Arabs rather than noble soldiers. 

In 1551, Coligni was nominated Governor of 
Paris and of the Isle de France, and in the follow- 
ing year, created Admiral of France, a military as 
well as a naval office, next in rank to that of the 
Constable. Soon afterwards he was invested with 
the military government of Pieardy, and admitted 
a member of the Privy Council. In 1556, he ne- 
gotiated a peace with Spain on terms honorable to 
France. It was but two months after the signature 
of this treaty, that the intrigues of the Pope and 
the Guises induced Henry to attack Spain, without 
even the formality of a declaration of war being is- 
sued. Coligni was ordered to commence hostilities. 
He remonstrated in the most forcible terms against 
so flagrant a breach of faith, but his remonstrances 
were overruled. The loss of the battle of St. Quen- 
tin was the penalty France paid for her treachery 


on this occasion. In that disastrous campaign the one 
redeeming incident was the heroic defence of St. 
Quentin by Coligni and his younger brother. The 
town was taken at last by assault, and the Admiral 
had to yield himself a prisoner of war. He was 
confined first in the fort of L'Ecluse, and afterwards 
in the citadel of Ghent. He occupied his leisure 
hours in reading the Bible, and the writings of the 
Reformers. .His generous spirit had been already 
deeply moved by the heroism of the Protestant 
martyrs. He now discovered the source of that 
heroism in the simple but sublime truths they had 
received out of the Holy Scriptures. So deep was 
the impression made upon his mind, that, when in 
1559 he was released from his captivity, he did not re- 
turn to court. He threw up the government of Picar- 
dy and of the Isle de France, and retired to his coun- 
try seat of Chatillon. His two brothers joined him 
there. Days and months were given by the three to 
earnest reading of the Scriptures, and consultations as 
to the future. The mind of the youngest brother, 
Francis, better known by his second name D'Ande- 
lot, had already been made up. Three years be- 
fore, he had been confined in the citadel of Milan, 
had taken the same means to relieve his solitude as 
his elder brother had done, and with the same re- 
sult, only his more ardent temperament had carried 
him somewhat further ; for upon his release, which 
took place the year before the battle of St. Quentin, 
he announced himself a convert to Protestantism, and 


in his own country of Brittany openly encouraged 
it. The Cardinal found himself at first much in the 
same state of mind with the Admiral. The result 
of their conferences was, that all three resolved 
openly to cast in their lot with their persecuted 
fellow-countrymen. D'Andelot was the first to be 
exposed to danger. 

One evening in the spring of 1557, some stu- 
dents were sauntering along the Pre-aux-Clercs, 
the fashionable promenade on the banks of the 
Seine. They sang together, as they walked, the 
French Psalms of Clement Marot in the harmony 
of four parts, set by Goudimel. Such kind of sing- 
ing was new to the ears of the Parisians. They 
had many listeners, and many assistants too ; for, 
evening after evening as the singing was resumed, 
the band of singers swelled in numbers, good proof 
how many voices had been trained in secret to this 
kind of psalmody. The King of Navarre, who hap- 
pened to be in Paris at the time, in the fresh im- 
pulse of his new-born and short-lived Lutheranism, 
put himself at its head. Lords and gentlemen, 
French and foreign (among the latter we notice 
some Lords of the Congregation from Scotland), 
joined the ranks and took part in the music. It 
became for the time the great evening incident of 
the Parisian day. The clergy took instant and 
grave alarm. Henry was not at Paris, but they 
forwarded in haste a representation to him at 
Amiens, denoimcing these reunions as seditious as- 


semblies. A royal order for their suppression im- 
mediately appeared. 

Among those reported to the King as having 
taken part in these musical promenades was 
D'Andelot. In itself it was but a slight offence ; 
but it had been told the King besides, that Pro- 
testant books had been found in D'Andelot's lug- 
gage, and that Protestant ministers had been open- 
ly protected by him in Brittany. He was sum- 
moned into the royal presence. The King asked 
his opinion of the mass. " I look upon it," said the 
frank and fearless soldier, " as a detestable profana- 
tion." The King reminded him of the honors he 
had heaped upon him, and reproached him with 
ingratitude. " Sire," said D'Andelot, " the obliga- 
tion I feel for the honors you have conferred upon 
me is such that I have not spared either body or 
goods in your service ; but do not think it strange 
if, after having rendered that service to your Maj- 
esty, I study the well-being of my soul. I entreat 
you that you leave my conscience free, and take my 
body and goods which are altogether yours." " But 
I did not give you that order," said the King, 
pointing to the collar that he wore, " that you might 
act as you have done. In accepting it you swore to 
follow my religion." " Sire," replied D'Andelot, 
" I did not then know what it was to be a Christian. 
I should not have accepted it on such conditions 
had God then touched my heart as He has touched 
it since." The King could restrain his rage no 


longer. Seizing the first thing he could grasp, 
some say a knife, and some a plate, he flung it at 
D'Andelot, missing him, and hitting his own son 
the Dauphin instead. Ordered out of the royal 
presence, D'Andelot made his obeisance and with- 
drew ; but at the door of the palace he was arrested 
and carried prisoner to the citadel of Melim. 

The imprisonment of so distinguished a noble- 
man produced a profound sensation. The Cardinal 
of Lorraine would have liked to have seen the law 
at once carried out in all its rigor. The Pope ex- 
pressed his astonishment afterwards that this was 
not done; but D'Andelot had many friends at 
Court who busied themselves incessantly in trying 
to persuade him to make some concession. Calvin 
heard of this and wrote to warn him against yield- 
ing to such solicitation. All that D'Andelot was 
asked to do was to allow the mass to be celebrated 
in his presence ; he was neither asked to take part 
himself in the service, nor to retract his formerly 
expressed opinion of it. He did so, and purchased 
thereby his liberty ; but so strict were the ideas of 
religious duty entertained among the Calvinists, 
that his concession was generally lamented as a 
dishonorable fall, and Calvin wrote to reproach 
him with it as such. D'Andelot lived to prove 
that these injurious suspicions of him were un- 

The Protestants hailed with hope the advent of 
Francis II. to the throne. He was not yet sixteen 


years old ; too young, too feeble, to take the gov- 
ernment into his own hands. The Queen-Mother, 
Catherine de Medicis, though she had not yet de- 
clared herself for either, had shown herself ready to 
take any side. With one exception, that of the 
Cardinal de Bourbon, the Princes of the blood 
into whose hands, had all ordinary precedents been 
followed, the power should have fallen had es- 
poused their cause. Yisions of a happier future, of 
the fires of persecution quenched, of liberty of wor- 
ship established, of the truth triumphing all over 
France, were floating before their eyes. A few days 
sufficed to dispel all these visions, and to bring 
down a deeper darkness than ever upon the future. 
When Henry received his death-wound, and it be- 
came evident that a change of government was at 
hand, the Constable had despatched a courier to the 
King of Navarre, urging his immediate presence at 
Paris. Instead of acting at once upon the counsel 
given him, the irresolute Antony loitered by the 
way, and finally stopped altogether at Yendome. 
When Henry died, the Constable's hands were for 
the time tied up, it being part of his official duty 
to conduct the funeral obsequies of the monarch, 
and the custom of the times forbidding that for 
thirty-five days he should meddle with public af- 
fairs. The Constable thus set aside, and the .Bour- 
bons and the Chatillons being at a distance, the 
Guises were masters of the position, and lost not a 
day in occupying it. Their influence over the new 


boy-king, through their niece Mary Stuart, "was un- 
bounded. Catherine they propitiated by the sacri- 
fice of the Dnchess of Yalentinois. As by the law 
of France the King attained his majority at the age 
of thirteen, they were able to act under royal sanc- 
tion. The late King's seal was demanded and ob- 
tained from the Constable ; the Cardinal was placed 
at the head of the Finance, the Duke at the head of 
the War Department. When the Deputies of the 
Parliament of Paris presented themselves to con- 
gratulate the young Prince upon his accession, they 
were informed by him that, with the approbation 
of the Queen-mother, he had committed the entire 
charge of the government to his two uncles. Re- 
leased from his funeral duties, the Constable ap- 
peared at Court ; he was informed that the King 
had no further need of his services, and he retired. 
Conde was appointed ambassador to the Low Coun- 
tries, an office unsuited to his position, which he 
rightly interpreted as only another way of banishing 
him from the Court. 

Action so prompt and decisive, such an instant 
and entire exclusion from the government of all the 
natural and hereditary counsellors of the Crown, 
excited the keenest indignation and discontent. 
Conde, Coligni, D'Andelot, the Prince of Porcian, 
the Count of Pochefoucault, the Vidam of Char- 
tres, and others, hastened to Vendome, where Na- 
varre was still resting on his way to Paris. The 
bolder spirits, such as Conde and D'Andelot, were 


for instant recourse to arms ; the wiser, as Coligni, 
resisted the proposal. It was at last resolved that 
the King of Navarre should at once proceed to Par- 
is, and claim and insist upon his rights. But all 
vigor went out of him by the way. Instead of re- 
senting the studied affronts put upon him, on reach- 
ing the metropolis he meanly submitted. The 
Guises knew well with whom they had to deal. A 
letter from Philip of Spain was put into his hands, 
threatening an invasion of Navarre ; and so terrified 
was Antony that he accepted the inglorious office 
of conducting the Princess Elizabeth to Spain, in 
the hope that in a personal interview with Philip 
an interview that was never granted him he 
might move that monarch from his purpose. 

Meanwhile, the Guises, intoxicated with suc- 
cess, advanced in their career. Montmorency was 
stripped of the office of Grand Master (originally 
that of the Mayor of the Palace), which was as- 
sumed by the Duke. The government of Picardy, 
which the Admiral had resigned, in the expectation 
that it would be given to Conde, was bestowed on 
a creature of the Lorraines. The Cardinal, with 
nothing in the public treasury, found himself be- 
sieged by old servants of the Crown, demanding 
the payment of arrears of salary. The Duke re- 
ceived the importunate suitors in the most gracious 
manner, and gave them all good words, while the 
Cardinal had gibbets erected in the neighborhood 
of St. Germain, and caused it to be proclaimed 


three times by sound of trumpet, that all who came 
there to demand money should quit the place with- 
in twenty-four hours, on pain of being hanged 
forthwith, one of the numerous instances in which 
the two brothers played with admirable effect into 
each others hands. 

But there were those for whom something 
worse than threatenings were prepared. King 
Heury died on 10th July 1559. On the 14th of 
the same month, an injunction was laid upon the 
Parliament of Paris to proceed instantly to the trial 
of Anne du Bourg, the Member of Parliament who 
had been arrested by the late King's order. The 
position, the youth, the eloquence, the piety of Du 
Bourg, fixed upon this trial a larger measure of 
public attention than on that of any other martyr 
of the Reformation. He asked to be tried by his 
peers ; just and constitutional as it was, that plea 
was overruled by royal mandate. He drew up 
such a confession of his faith, as could not fail to 
send him to the stake. Few more touching scenes 
have ever been recorded than that of his last ap- 
pearance before the Court when the sentence of 
death was passed upon him. He melted his stern 
judges to tears, and then turned those tears into 
fresh arguments against the course of persecution 
that was being followed in France. A rash attempt 
having been made to rescue him from prison, an 
old iron cage that had been used in the days of 
Louis XI. was sought out. Du Bourg was enclosed 


in it, clothed and fed in the meanest way. The 
23d of December, the day before Christmas eve, 
was fixed for his execution. His deportment at 
the stake was so calm, so modest, yet so triumphant, 
and so sublime, that a Roman Catholic historian 
declared, that " his execution did more harm than 
a hundred ministers by all their preaching could 
have done." 

Edict after edict was published, denouncing 
death on all who attended any private meeting for 
religious purposes ; declaring that all who had 
knowledge of such assemblies, and failed to reveal 
them, should have the same penalty inflicted on 
them, offering large rewards to all who should in- 
form against heretics, and ordering all houses in 
which it could be proved that secret assemblies had 
been held, to be razed to the ground. New courts 
were established, fitly called Chambres Ardentes, 
since they burned without mercy every one who 
was convicted of heresy. Popular fanaticism lent 
its aid to the execution of the law. In Paris, Bor- 
deaux, Lyons, Grenoble, Dijon, and other cities 
where the Calvinists abounded, private houses were 
broken into upon the slightest suspicion, and whole 
families hurried to prison ; espionage, pillage, con- 
fiscation, executions, multiplied day by day. 

Men began at last to speak freely of taking up 
arms. A case was drawn up, and submitted to the 
most celebrated jurists and theologians of France, 
Switzerland, and Germany. They were asked, 

FRANCIS n. 57 

Whether with a safe conscience, provided no vi- 
olence were offered to the King and the lawful 
magistrates, men might take up arms for the safety 
and liberty of the country, seize Francis of Guise, 
and the Cardinal his brother, and compel them to 
resign their usurped authority." True to the prin- 
ciple of almost unlimited submission to the civil 
power, which he had always taught, Calvin gave 
his judgment against the employment of force. 
The majority, however, decided in favor of the pro- 
ceeding, provided it had the sanction of one of the 
Princes of the blood, and of the States of the king- 
dom, or the greater and sounder part of them. The 
Prince of Conde was consulted. He was not pre- 
pared, in the first instance, to appear as the leader 
of the movement ; but should a successful com- 
mencement be made, he was ready then to ac- 
knowledge and to head it. 

The perilous task was undertaken by Kenaudie, 
a gentleman of Perigord. In executing it, he dis- 
played an ability, activity, and devotedness worthy 
of a better fate. He crossed to England to see 
what hope of support he might count upon from 
the Government of Elizabeth, but got little encour- 
agement. He traversed a large part of France, 
and conversed personally with the chief of the dis- 
affected. He appointed a rendezvous to take place 
on the 1st February 1560 at Mantes. The Parlia- 
ment of Brittany was to hold its sittings there. 
Some marriages among the nobility were at the 


same time to be celebrated. There would be a 
large concourse of people gathered, and Renaudie 
rightly calculated that he and his friends might as- 
semble without exciting notice or suspicion. The 
day arrived. The engagements were all kept. By 
different routes, a goodly band, none indeed of the 
chief nobility, but one or two of the lesser barons, 
and many gentlemen of character and good posi- 
tion entered Nantes. Renaudie visited each of them 
separately in their hotels. In the evening they all 
met. Renaudie depicted in glowing terms the in- 
solent tyranny of the Guises ; the miserable condi- 
tion into which the State had fallen ; the danger 
to the King himself, if not rescued out of their 
hands. " Why, then," said he, " should we delay 
any longer? Let us deliver our King from peril, 
our country from its chains. Let all who agree 
with me stand up." They rose as it had been a 
single man. Not an objection was taken, nor shad- 
ow of hesitation seen. It was resolved that they 
should all return forthwith to their different prov- 
inces, to meet again, accompanied with a small but 
sufficient force, in the neighborhood of Blois, where 
the Court then was, on the 10th of the next month. 
A few of them unarmed were then to seek an au- 
dience of the King, to demand liberty of worship 
for the Protestants, and the dismissal of the Guises 
from power. On their demand being rejected, as 
they calculated it would, their armed followers were 
to seize upon the Guises, arrest them for trial, and 


call upon the Prince of Conde, who was not to be 
far off, to take the further guidance of affairs. The 
plan was admirably laid ; the secret kept with as- 
tonishing fidelity, but the treachery of one man 
proved fatal. 

Retiring from Kantes to Paris, Renaudie took 
up his quarters in the house of a Protestant advo- 
cate named Avenelles. Surprised at the number 
of persons coming at strange hours to see his guest, 
Avenelles expressed suspicion. To secure his si- 
lence, Renaudie took him into his confidence, and 
disclosed the project. Avenelles revealed the 
whole to the agent of the Cardinal of Lorraine in 
Paris. A courier with the intelligence set off at 
once to Blois. The frightened Cardinal was for 
instant seizures, imprisonments, and executions. 
The Duke took a different course. He removed 
the Court from Blois, where it was unprotected, 
higher up the Loire, to Amboise, whose strong 
castle, built upon a lofty rock, was of itself a bul- 
wark of defence. He got himself appointed Lieu- 
tenant-General of the kingdom, an office conferring 
almost unlimited authority. He sent off letters to 
Conde, the Admiral, and D'Andelot, desiring their 
immediate attendance upon the King. If they 
came, it would keep them from rendering any help 
to the conspirators ; if they came not, their absent- 
ing themselves would be presumptive evidence of 
their complicity in the plot. They all, however, 
without delay, presented themselves at Amboise. 


The Admiral, who had no concern whatever with 
Renaudie's movements, strongly counselled that 
the best way to meet and counteract them was by 
the exercise of toleration towards the Protestants, 
a counsel that for the time was partially followed. 

Renaudie was informed of the treachery of Ave- 
nelles. It did not change his purpose ; but he had 
to alter his plan. The day of the meditated assault 
was shifted from the 10th to the 16th March, and 
fresh instructions were issued to his followers, their 
places of meeting on the morning of the 16th fixed, 
and the secret word of recognition given. Renau- 
die still fancied he should succeed, as the Duke had 
but a small body of troops at Amboise. One of his 
own number again betrayed him. All his precon- 
certed arrangements were communicated to the 
Duke. Met at every point. by skilful dispositions 
of the royal forces, the attack utterly failed. Re- 
naudie himself fell in one of the first encounters of 
the morning. His body was suspended for a day 
upon a gibbet on the bridge, then cut into four 
quarters, which were exposed in the most public 
places of the town ; the head nailed to a plank, as 
keepers nail the birds of prey they shoot. 

The Baron de Castelnau, one of Renaudie's asso- 
ciates, advancing at the head of his Gascons, found 
himself suddenly in front of a superior force. The 
Duke de Nemours, who led it, and who knew the 
Baron, warned him of the utter hopelessness of the 
enterprise, and entreated him to surrender. Cas- 


telnau did so, though not till he had got a written 
engagement (signed by Kemours on the spot) that 
his life, and that of his followers, should be spared. 
But few escaped. The great body of the insur- 
gents fell into the hands of the victors. 

And now commenced a series of butcheries that 
lasted for a whole month. During these four 
weeks, and within the small enclosure of that town 
of Amboise, 1200 men were beheaded, hanged, or 
drowned. The market-place was crowded with 
gibbets. Gallows enough could not be raised, and 
so they took them, and hung them up from the 
walls and battlements of the Castle. The Loire 
would soon have been choked up, and so they took 
the dead bodies, and sent them floating down the 
river on small rafts, whose ghastly freightage an- 
nounced to the inhabitants of Tours and Xantes 
what was going on at Amboise. The Court had 
its daily festival of blood. At a set hour each day, 
the ladies of the Court, dressed in their gayest attire 
our own Mary Stuart there among the rest 
placed themselves at the windows of the chateau, 
before which, for their special behoof, a number of 
executions took place. The Cardinal was there, 
amusing them with his pleasantries, directing their 
attention to those minor incidents of the bloody 
drama that might otherwise have escaped their 
notice, turning occasionallv to the voiing Kins;, as 
the most intrepid heroism was displayed by his 
victims in meeting death, to say, " See, Sire, their 


shameless effrontery ! The very fear of death can't 
quench their arrogance. What would they have 
done with you if they had had you in their 
hands ? " The Duke had his own private enter- 
tainments of the same kind. A gentleman from 
the Duke of Longueville arrived to inquire after 
the Duke's health. He received him at table. 
" Tell your master," said he, " that I am well, and 
report to him (pointing his finger to the window) 
with what kind of viands I am regaling myself." 
As he spoke, a tall and handsome man, chosen for 
the occasion, was hung up upon the bars of the 

One pities the poor sickly Francis, doomed to 
be the spectator of such scenes. It is a relief to 
notice that some bitter misgivings did at times 
come over him. "What have I done," said he 
once, bursting into tears, " what have I done to my 
people that they hate me so % I would like to hear 
their complaints and their reasons." Then, turn- 
ing to the Lorraines, " I don't know how it is, but 
I hear that it is against you that they are so angry. 
I wish you would leave me for a while, that I 
might see whether it is of me or you that they 
complain." "If we left you," was the reply, "the 
Bourbons would quickly find the means of ex- 
terminating our house." The weak youth had 
nothing for it but to bury his misgivings in his 

Among the ladies of the Court one only shrank 

FRANCIS n. 63 

from the frightful daily spectacle. She was not, 
as we could have wished her to be, the young 
King's beautiful bride. The Baron de Castelnau, 
with fifteen gentlemen who had surrendered along 
with him, were brought up for trial. Faith had 
been plighted to them, but it was ruled that with 
rebels as with heretics no faith should be kept. 
The Chancellor, Francis Olivier, whom Castelnau 
knew well, presided at the trial. Questioned as to 
his religious opinions, the Baron answered so well, 
that the Chancellor was tempted to ask him at 
what school of theology he had studied ? " Have 
you forgotten," said the accused, " how, on my re 
turn from imprisonment in Flanders, you asked 
me once how I had spent my time, and when I 
told you it was in study of the Holy Scriptures, 
you praised my labors, advised me to attend the 
assemblies of the Reformed, and expressed your 
wish that all the nobility of France had chosen, like 
me, the better part ? " Olivier hung his head in 
silence. The Cardinal took up the theological de- 
bate to be in turn confounded. Castelnau asked 
the Duke to notice how his brother had broken 
down. " I know nothing of arguments," said the 
Duke, " but I know very well how to cut oif heads." 
"Would to God," replied the Baron, "that you 
did understand argument like your brother. I am 
certain you would not pervert your conscience. 
As to your threat about cutting off heads, it is un- 
worthy of a Prince like you." Castelnau and his 


friends were subjected to torture, but no sufferings 
could extort from them any other declaration than 
that it was against the Guises alone, and not 
against the King, that they had taken up arms. 
They were condemned to death as guilty of high 
treason. " Treason ! " said Castelnau, on hearing 
the sentence, " I ought then to have said that the 
Guises were kings of France. If it be treason to 
take up arms against those violators of our laws 
and liberties, let them be declared kings at once." 
The scaffold on which he and his companions were 
beheaded was erected in front of the castle. The 
Court ladies as usual, with the Chancellor and the 
Guises, were looking on. Castelnau, after praying 
aloud to God, and appealing to Him to attest his 
innocence, gave his head to the executioner. It 
came to the turn of Villemorgue, one of the fif- 
teen. Stepping forward, he dipped his hands in 
the blood of his companions, and raising them to 
Heaven, exclaimed, " Lord, it is the blood of thy 
children unjustly slain. Thou wilt avenge it!" 
A cry came from the place where the ladies of the 
Court were sitting. The Duchess of Guise, who 
had uttered it, sprung from her seat, and rushed 
into the chamber of the Queen-mother. Cathe- 
rine asked her why it was that she was in such 
deep distress. " Have I not seen," said the Duch- 
ess, "the blood of the innocent flowing? I fear, 
I fear, that cry for vengeance will fall heavy upon 
our house." 


The Chancellor Olivier had been seen to weep 
at the execution. The last words of Castelnan kept 
ringing in his ears. He sought his chamber ; he 
flung himself upon his bed. That room he never 
left ; from that bed he never rose. Devoured by a 
terrible remorse that induced a consuming fever, he 
filled his chamber with the bitter cries of a self-ac- 
cusing spirit. The Cardinal heard of his distress, 
and came to visit him. " Ha ! Cardinal," said Ol- 
ivier when he saw him enter, " yon have damned 
yourself and all of us." " It is the Evil One who 
troubles you," said the Cardinal ; " force yourself to 
stay firm in the faith." " Well spoken, well an- 
swered," said Olivier with a sardonic laugh ; then 
turned his back upon him, and would not speak 
another word. The Cardinal retired. Two days 
afterwards Olivier died. 1 

It is from this conspiracy of Amboise that we 
date the giving of a new name to the Reformers of 
France. Up to this time, during the reign of Fran- 
cis I. and Henry II., they had been called Sacre- 
mentaires, or those of " the religion," or heretics of 
Meaux, or more generally Lutherans. The impro- 
priety of the last name was now generally felt. 
Both in doctrine and discipline the French Churches 
followed the guidance, not of Luther but of Calvin. 
A new term arose of local origin, at first a soubri- 
quet of reproach invented and applied by their en- 

1 " Histoire de la Reformation Franqaise," par F. Puaux, 
tome ii. p. 37. Paris 1859. 


emies. In the superstitious belief of the times 
each chief town had its own goblin of the night ; 
its foul spirit doomed to make its purgatory there, 
haunting by day some dark subterranean dwelling, 
but sallying forth under cover of the darkness, to 
scour the streets and terrify the poor wayfarers it 
chanced to meet. At Tours it was Le Roi Huguet 
From this king, of whose historic character we know 
nothing, one of the gates of that city derived its 
name. Near this gate was an underground apart- 
ment in which the Reformers of the city held their 
nightly meetings. The time, the place, the object 
of these meetings connected themselves in the pop- 
ular belief with the goblin King Hugo, and his ter 
rible nightly forthcomings. They call the Reform- 
ers Huguenots. This term was taken up by oth- 
ers ; it spread rapidly over France ; time stripped 
it soon of its primitive and sinister signification. 
It was accepted at last by the Protestants them- 
selves, who ever since for nearly three centuries 
have been familiarly spoken of as the Huguenots of 
France. 1 

But not only was a new name, a new character 
was now given to the Reformation. Up to this 
period it had been a purely religious movement. 
Now it became a political as well as a religious 

1 For a full discussion of the different etymologies of the 
word Hugwnot, see " Les Huguenots et la Constitution de 
l'Eglise Reformee de France en 1559," par E. Castel, pp. 
41-92. Paris, 1859. 

fraxcis n. 67 

one. There was as much, certainly, of political as 
of religious discontent at the bottom of Renaudie's 
enterprise. Its double aim was to overthrow the 
power of the Guises, and to protect the Hugue- 
nots from persecution. The victims of that enter- 
prise died as heroically as any martyr at the stake ; 
but those bloody hands of Yillemorgue, the dying 
cry for vengeance, tell us that the purer age of re- 
ligious martvrdom is over ; that the strife of hu- 
man passion and political faction has begun, with 
what gain and loss to the cause of Protestantism it 
remains for us to notice. 

Conde's complicity in Renaudie's unfortunate 
attempt was more than suspected by the Court. 
Perhaps the Cardinal had in his hands sufficient 
proof of it. We know, at least, he urged that 
Conde should be arrested, and brought instantly to 
trial. The Prince cut the matter short by demand- 
ing an audience of the King ; proclaiming in the 
royal presence that whoever charged him with 
being a conspirator against the King lied in his 
throat, and challenging him to single combat. The 
Duke of G-uise stepped forward, not to take up the 
gauntlet, but to oifer himself as the Prince's sec- 
ond. A few days afterwards, the Court, driven 
from Amboise by the stench of the putrefying 
bodies, removed to Tours, and Conde took advan- 
tage of the opportunity to effect his escape. He 
found the country everywhere in a ferment ; the 
ranks of the Huguenots recruited by multitudes 


whom the cruelties of Amboise had excited against 
the Guises. 

The demand for the calling of the States-Gen- 
eral of the kingdom became so loud and so gener- 
al, that the Guises yielded so far as to summon an 
assembly, consisting of Princes of the blood, the 
Ministers of the Crown, the chief Clergy and No- 
bility. This Assembly, called from the character 
of its constituency the Assembly of Notables, met 
at Fontainebleau on 21st August 1560. The King 
of Navarre and the Prince of Conde did not attend. 
The old Constable, however, appeared with his two 
sons, and his three Huguenot nephews, attended by 
eight hundred gentlemen. Coligni presented a pe- 
tition from the Huguenot inhabitants of Norman- 
dy. The petitioners professed entire allegiance to 
the Crown ; offered to pay double tribute, to prove 
how falsely they were accused of a seditious spirit ; 
and humbly entreated that they might be allowed 
temples of their own in which they might assem- 
ble. It was remarked by some one that the peti- 
tion was unsigned. "Prudence," Coligni said, 
" had dictated the omission, but he was instructed 
to say that in a few days 50,000 signatures could be 
obtained." "And I," said the Duke of Guise, 
" can as easily get a million of good Catholics to 
lead against them, and break their heads." In the 
debate which followed, two Roman Catholic Bish- 
ops Montluc, Bishop of Valence, the Marillac, 
Archbishop of Vienne distinguished themselves 


by the moderate and charitable sentiments they ex- 
pressed. The Cardinal, seeing that the drift of the 
debate was running against his party, spoke in a con- 
ciliatory strain. "' With regard to the States-Gen- 
eral, he was decidedly of opinion that they should 
be called. A JSational Council to reform the 
Church he saw little need of, nevertheless he would 
not object to it. As to those seditious Huguenots, 
who cloaked their malice against the Crown under 
the guise of religion, he was for the severest pun- 
ishment being inflicted on them / but as to those 
poor fanatics who, without arms, and for fear of be- 
ing damned, went to their preachings and their 
psalm-singings, and other things of that sort, since 
punishment had as yet done nothing, he was of 
opinion that the King should no longer pursue them 
in that way ; but as to allowing them places of wor- 
ship of their own to practise their idolatry in, the 
King could not do it without being damned eter- 

One searches in vain through all the speeches 
on either side made on this occasion, of which large 
records have been preserved, for any expression in 
favor of religious liberty properly so called. It 
was not upon the ground that their faith and wor- 
ship should be tolerated, though ditfering from 
that of the majority of their countrymen, that the 
Huguenots preferred their request, but alone upon 
the ground that theirs was the only true faith, 
theirs the only true worship. Nor was it with the 


idea that two different faiths and worships were to be 
allowed to dwell together, that those good and kind- 
ly Bishops pleaded for a National Council being 
lield, but solely in the hope that the two might be 
brought together into one. One king, one law, one 
faith, was still the maxim universally accepted. 

The Assembly of Notables broke up, after ap- 
pointing a meeting of the States-General to be held 
at Meaux on the 10th December, and a National 
Council to be held at Paris on the 20th January 

Convinced by the results of this Assembly that 
a war d outrance was approaching, the Guises re- 
solved to be beforehand with their enemies, and to 
cut them oft' at a stroke. The Cardinal was the 
contriver of the scheme, which he facetiously called 
his " rat-trap." A confession of Faith that no Hu- 
guenot could sign, was to be presented by the 
King to the States-General, and adopted as a funda- 
mental law of the kindgom. This formula was to 
be presented afterwards to every individual in the 
kingdom arrived at years of discretion ; whoever 
refused to sign it was to be executed next day with- 
out mercy shown. As a preliminary step, the 
.Bourbon Princes, of whose treasonable practices 
sufficient evidence had now been got, were to be 
tried and executed. 

A project so large and so perilous demanded 
that adequate preparations should be made for its 
execution. Nothing in this way was left undone. 


The place of meeting of the States-General was 
changed from Heaux to the fortified town of Or- 
leans ; formidable forces were concentrated around 
the Court ; camps were formed, and bodies of troops 
distributed over the provinces, and the King of 
Spain and the Duke of Savoy engaged to hold them- 
selves in readiness to co-operate with the Lorraines 
when the time for action came. The Bourbons 
were now summoned to Court. Leaving Pan, the 
two brothers took their way to Orleans. All along 
their route they were met by those who entreated 
them to return, or at least allow themselves to be 
escorted by a sufficient force. At Limoges, they 
found between 700 and 800 gentlemen awaiting 
them, who engaged, that if they would but openly 
head the Huguenots, 16,000 well-armed men could 
be at once collected to open the campaign. Conde 
was ready for it, but Antony thought the enter- 
prise too rash. Then they asked the King of ]Sa- 
varre to leave his brother with them in command, 
but Conde would not secure his own safety at his 
brother's risk. Blinded by a fatal infatuation, they 
pursued their ill-fated journey. 

As they approached Orleans, a vague terror 
came over them. Xo one came out to meet them. 
They found the city crowded with military. Be- 
tween two files of soldiers, drawn up as if to guard 
them as prisoners by the way, they reached the 
house in which the King was lodged. Its main 
entrance they found closed ; they had to pass in by 


the wicket. As soon as they were in his presence, 
the King proceeded to accuse Conde of treasonable 
designs upon his person and crown. The daunt- 
less Prince flung back the charge upon his accus- 
ers. " In that case," said the King, " we shall 
proceed according to the ordinary forms of justice." 
Rising to depart, he ordered the captain of the 
guard to arrest the Prince, and convey him instant- 
ly to prison. The iron-grated windows of the 
house to which he was conducted, the formidable 
guard placed over it, the triple row of cannon that 
faced each street by which it was approached, the 
order that none of his friends should be allowed to 
communicate with him, not even in the jailer's 
presence, all foretold to Conde his approaching 
doom. But nothing could daunt his spirit. They 
sent a priest to celebrate mass in his room. He 
dismissed him contemptuously. It was hinted to 
him that he should make some concession to the 
Guises. " My only way of settling with them," 
was the reply, " shall be at the point of the lance." 
His trial, irregularly conducted, was hurried through, 
and he was condemned to die, the 10th of Decem- 
ber being named as the day of his execution. 

Poor Antony had entered Orleans, idly talking 
of bearding these lions, the Guises, in their den. 
His brother's arrest shook all vain confidence out 
of him ; he sank into despair. The meanest and 
most humiliating approaches were made by him to 
the Lorraines, which they haughtily repulsed. He, 

FRANCIS n. 73 

too, was to be removed, but in a different way. A 
plan for his assassination was concocted ; it was to 
be managed so that the King should be personally 
implicated. The young King was to send for him, 
provoke a quarrel, draw and strike at him with his 
own dagger, and then fitter and stronger hands were 
to complete the deed. Navarre got notice of the 
plot. Sent for by the King he declined to go. 
The message was repeated. Navarre's blood rose, 
for he was brave, though weak. Accompanied by 
Renty, an officer who enjoyed his confidence, he 
proceeded to the royal residence. As he moimted 
the steps, he was entreated to turn back. " Mount 
not, sire," said a friendly voice ; " you go to perish." 
"I go," said he, turning to Renty, "into a place 
where I know they have sworn my death, but 
never was life sold so dearly as mine shall be." 
With these bold words upon his lips, he passed 
into the royal presence. There was something in 
his bearing that quelled the King. Francis' cour- 
age failed him ; no quarrel was raised, nor stroke of 
dagger attempted. The Duke of Guise, on seeing 
Navarre come out unhurt, was heard to say con- 
temptuously, " The weak, cowardly child ; his prey 
has escaped him." Some other mode of securing 
that prey was to be tried. 

The scaffold for Conde's execution had been 

erected ; the most expert executioners had been 

sent for, and were already in Orleans, when, on the 

morning of the 17th November, the young King 



was seized with a sudden illness. An abscess form- 
ed in the brain discharged itself through the ear. 
Symptoms of mortification manifested themselves. 
The Guises were in despair. The choleric Duke 
vented his abuse upon the physicians who could 
not cure the King. The Cardinal set the whole 
machinery of the Church in motion. Preachers in 
all the churches besought their hearers to pray for 
the prolongation of the King's life. The streets 
and squares were crowded with processions of the 
faithful. But the fatal malady pursued its course. 
Ambrose Pare, the celebrated physician, declared 
the case to be hopeless. In their extremity, the 
Guises offered their support to the Queen-mother, 
if she would consent to the immediate execution of 
the Bourbons. She was of too quick intelligence 
not to see that, in event of the young King's death, 
the destruction of the House of Bourbon would 
leave the Lorraines masters of the Crown. She 
closed her ear to the proposal, and calmly awaited 
the event that was to put so much power into her 
own hands. 

Meanwhile, the poor young Prince was pass- 
ing through his dying agonies. At first he had 
some hope, and then he made the vows that he had 
been taught to believe would be most acceptable 
to Heaven. He vowed, that if life were given 
him, he would extirpate every heretic out of his 
land. " May I die next moment," cried he, " if I 
spare mothers, infants, wives ; any who have even 

FRANCIS n. 75 

the taint of the suspicion of heresy npon them." 
Tows and prayers were alike in vain. The sickly 
youth must die. His last honr, he himself felt, had 
come ; and we are pleased to hear from those dying 
lips the words, among the last he spake, " Oh 
Lord, pardon me my faults, and impute not to me 
those that my ministers have committed under my 
authority." The light of truth breaks in through 
the shades of death, and gentle nature triumphs 
over fanatical belief! 



CHARLES IX., 1560-1563. 

Meeting of the States-General. Catherine's letter to the Pope. 
Colloquy of Poissy. Conference at Saverne. The mas- 
sacre at Vassy. Coligni at Chatillon. Montluc and Des 
Adrets. Battle of Dreux. Death of the Duke of Guise. 

The death of Francis II. terminated for a time 
the domination of the Guises. Relieved so sud- 
denly from so heavy a pressure, France sprang to 
her feet and for a moment fancied she was free. The 
States-General met at Orleans on the 13th Decem- 
ber 1560, only eight days after the young mon- 
arch's death. They sat daily for upwards of six 
weeks. Two of the Estates, the nobility and the 
Tiers-Etat, met some months afterwards at Pon- 
toise to complete the work so auspiciously begun. 

One of the first matters for consideration was the 
settlement of the Government. Charles IX. was 
only ten years old at his brother's death. The Es- 
tates conceived that it lay with them to nominate 
the Regent. Instead of waiting, however, even to 
consult with them, they found at their first sitting 
that the Regency had been filled up, and all the 
great officers of State appointed. They might have 


been less disposed to quarrel with this arrangement 
had the old cnstom of the State been followed, by 
the Regency being put into the hands of the near 
est Prince of the blood. But Antony of Navarre 
had been set aside, and the Queen-mother installed 
in the place that should have been his. This had 
been done, however, with [Navarre's own consent 
and concurrence ; but it was more difficult to satis- 
fy that party which had attached itself to the House 
of Bourbon, as furnishing it with its best heads and 
protectors. Coligni and D'Andelot were wisely 
chosen to conduct the negotiations between the Hu- 
guenots and the Court, and so thoroughly did Cath- 
erine convince them of her friendliness to their 
cause, that, mainly by their means, the controversy 
upon this point was closed by the Regency of the 
Queen-mother being ratified. One regrets to see 
that the Protestant ministers assembled in synod at 
Poitiers mixed themselves up with this affair, by 
drawing up a memorial demanding the exclusion 
of women from the government It was stepping 
beyond their province, and that in the way most fit- 
ted to prejudice Catherine against them. 

The state of the public finances came next under 
the notice of the Deputies. Matters here were in 
a quite ruinous condition. Not only had the sur- 
plus which Francis I. had left in the public treas- 
ury been exhausted, but a debt had been accumu- 
lated during the reigns of his two successors which 
amounted now to forty-three millions of livres. 


What was worse, the excess of the annual expendi- 
ture over the annual income had been increasing 
till the one was now nearly the double of the other. 
To meet this deficit, the Nobles proposed that a 
new tax should be levied, two-thirds of which 
should be imposed upon the property of the Church, 
and one-third upon that of the general community. 
The Third Estate went further. It broadly laid 
down the position that the possessions of the Church, 
having no other origin than the liberality of kings 
and ancient barons, were in the hands of ecclesias- 
tics only as administrators ; that the right to dis- 
pose of them lay with the State. It proposed that, 
reserving to the Church its right to the ecclesiasti- 
cal edifices, the entire remainder of its estates should 
be disposed of by public auction : one-third of the 
produce to be invested so as to furnish incomes to 
the clergy, one-third devoted to the liquidation of 
the public debt, and one-third to the general pur- 
poses of the State. It is curious to find a measure 
so sweeping and revolutionary in its character pro- 
posed in France at so early a period. Still more 
curious to remember that more than a century and 
a half before this time, in 1408, the Commons of 
England presented a petition to the King embody- 
ing a proposal identical in principle with that 
mooted by the Tiers-Etat of France. Alarmed at 
this threatened invasion of their property, the 
clergy of France voluntarily undertook the payment 
of nearly a half of the public debt, obtaining in re- 


turn a secret pledge from the Queen-Regent that 
the Catholic religion should be exclusively main- 

"With respect to the Church and the state of 
religion generally, the Deputies of the two Estates 
demanded that all pluralities in the Church should 
be abolished ; that ecclesiastical benefices should be 
conferred only by election ; that free schools should 
be opened all over France, in which the children 
should be instructed in the truths of the Christian 
religion ; that a national council should be held, in 
which ah the existing controversies should be de- 
cided according to the Word of God ; that in this 
council the Reformed ministers should be invited 
to take part ; that meanwhile, churches should be 
allowed to the Reformed ; and that all punishments 
on account of religious offences should cease. The 
States declared their belief that perseverance, even 
for one year, in such persecuting measures as had 
been pursued, would light a flame which no power 
under heaven could extinguish. Such were the 
proposals and demands of the first meeting of the 
Estates that had assembled in France since the 
leaven of the Reformation had begun to work. In 
the political and religious reforms which they sug- 
gest, they carry with them convincing proof of the 
extent to which their leaven had at this time per- 
meated the middle and upper classes of society. 

The assembly of the clergy, in which the differ- 
ences between the Reformed and the Roman Cath- 


olic faiths were to be discussed, was summoned to 
meet at Poissy in September. Instead of calling 
it a council a term obnoxious to Rome the 
milder epithet of a Colloquy was bestowed on it. 
Called by whatever name, a conference upon equal 
terms between Huguenot ministers and the clergy 
of the Church was a scandal to all ultra Catholics. 
The Pope was alarmed and exasperated when he 
heard of it, nor were his fears apparently without 
foundation. A curious letter is preserved, written 
to him by Catherine de Medicis, in which she de- 
fends the calling of this assembly. "The num- 
bers," she says, " of those who have separated from 
the Church of Rome are so great, the party has 
become so powerful through the multitudes of the 
nobility and magistracy that have adopted it, that 
it is formidable in all parts of the kingdom. But 
there are found among them neither libertines, ana- 
baptists, nor holders of any opinions that are re- 
garded as monstrous. All admit the twelve arti- 
cles of the Apostles' Creed as they have been ex- 
plained in the seven (Ecumenical Councils. On 
this account, many zealous Catholics are of opinion, 
that they ought not to be cut off from the com- 
munion of the Church, which might prove a first 
step towards the reunion of the Greek and Latin 
Churches. Should your Highness not approve of 
the suggestion, they are of opinion, so urgent is the 
evil, that recourse must be had to extraordinary 
measures, in order to recall those who have separa- 


ted, and to retain those who still adhere to the 
Church. To accomplish the first of these objects, 
they believe no better method will be found than 
frequent conferences between the Doctors on either 
side, and for the second, that all scandals should be 
removed." As instances of the scandals to be re- 
moved, Catherine goes on to specify the worship 
of images, communion only in one kind, the use of 
the Latin tongue in public worship, and the prac- 
tice of private masses. The Pope, as he read this 
letter, must have felt as if France was on the eve 
of following the example of England. He imme- 
diately despatched the Cardinal of Ferrara to be 
present at the Colloquy, and Lainez, the general of 
the Jesuits, set out on the same errand. Catherine 
had written to Calvin inviting his presence. He did 
not come, but sent in his stead Theodore Beza, who, 
being an accomplished gentleman as well as a divine, 
was peculiarly fitted for the task assigned him. 
Beza was accompanied by Peter Martyr, a name 
familiar to us in the history of the Reformation in 

The sittings of the Colloquy were opened on the 
8th September in the refectory of one of the largest, 
convents at Poissy. The young King, the Queen- 
mother, the members of the Court, all the great 
officers of state, six Cardinals, thirty-six Bishops 
and Archbishops, a whole host of inferior clergy 
and distinguished doctors of the Church, filled tho 
Hall. The King opened the diet by announcing 


the object of the assembly. The Chancellor follow- 
ed in a long address ; then, at a given signal, the 
doors were thrown open, and, clad in their simple 
Geneva vestments, the twelve Calvinist ministers, 
escorted by two-and-twenty deputies from the 
churches, were seen to enter. They approached a 
balustrade that had been drawn across the hall to 
prevent their further ingress. Beza, addressing the 
King, entreated him not to be offended if in a mat- 
ter of such great moment he had recourse to the 
Father of spirits for light and guidance. He and 
his colleagues then fell upon their knees, and, amid 
the breathless silence of the large assembly, Beza 
offered up a prayer still preserved in the liturgy of 
the French churches. Rising from his knees he en- 
tered upon a lengthened statement and defence of 
the doctrines of the Reformation. He was listened 
to with the utmost attention till he happened to let 
fall the words that he believed that in the Supper 
the real body and blood of Christ were as far from 
the bread and wine as the heavens were from the 
earth. A tumult of indignation was excited ; some 
rose to depart, others exclaimed that he had blas- 
phemed. The old Cardinal of Tournon entreated 
either that the speaker should be stopped, or that 
he and others should be permitted to retire. Order 
was at last restored. Beza resumed his address, 
which he closed by presenting to the King, on bend- 
ed knee, the Confession of Faith of the Reformed 


Beza's eloquent oration occupied the whole 
forenoon. The Cardinal of Lorraine undertook to 
reply to it. He demanded, however, some days 
for preparation. It was not till the 16th of the 
month that the sittings were resumed. The Car- 
dinal's address came up to the highest expectation 
of his friends. Instead of going over the whole 
ground occupied by Beza, he confined himself to 
two points the authority of the Church, and the 
real presence in the Communion. Opposing the 
unity of the one Holy Catholic Church to all the 
diversities of Protestantism, he drew a grand his- 
toric picture of that Church, surviving all the 
changes of the past, and destined to resist all the 
shocks of the future, ending by an appeal to the 
young monarch to attach himself more and more 
firmly to the ancient faith of his fathers. The as- 
sembly was electrified. The Bishops all rose from 
their seats, pronounced the reply unanswerable, 
demanded that the Reformed ministers should con- 
fess themselves conquered, and should either at 
once acknowledge the two articles the Cardinal 
had substantiated, or be driven from the pres- 
ence of royalty. In the midst of the confusion 
Beza rose and requested to be heard immediate- 
ly in reply. The Council, more reasonable than 
the Bishops, acknowledged the fairness of the re- 
quest, but adjourned the hearing of the reply to a 
future diet. 

Meanwhile, the Cardinal of Ferrara and Lainez 


had arrived. Unable at once to stop the Colloquy, 
they persuaded the Regent that already by far too 
much publicity had been given to such discussions, 
and that if continued it would be much better to 
have a small number on both sides chosen, and to 
conduct the discussion in a smaller apartment of 
the convent. This suggestion was acted on, but 
the discussion in the Prior's chamber had no better 
issue than those in the refectory. 

The Cardinal now tried a ruse, upon the success 
of which he confidently counted. Having selected 
those articles of the Confession of Augsburg to 
which he thought it most likely that the Calvinists 
would object, he presented it to Beza and his col- 
leagues, and asked if they were ready to sign them 
as a basis of peace and reconciliation. Beza an- 
swered that these articles would be useless as such 
a basis, unless it were known in the first instance 
whether the Bishops agreed to them, and intimated 
that whenever their signature was attached to them, 
he and his friends would be prepared to take them 
into consideration. The wily Cardinal for once 
was foiled. 

As a last effort, the Queen-mother required a 
few theologians on both sides to draw up a formula 
of belief as to the Lord's Supper which both could 
sign. They succeeded in doing so. The formula 
was shown to the Cardinal of Lorraine, who ap- 
proved of }t, For a moment it was imagined that 
a common ground or form of belief, on this one point 


at least, had been discovered. No sooner, however, 
had the formula been shown to the Bishops and 
the doctors of the Sorbonne than it was at once 
rejected. Another, drawn up according to the 
strictest tenets of Catholicism, was framed ; and the 
Regent was required to extort a signature to it 
from the Reformed ministers, or, in case of their 
refusal, to drive them from the kingdom. Cathe- 
rine was convinced that the attempt to reconcile the 
two religions was vain, and the Colloquy of Poissy 
was closed. 

The adherents of the old faith, constituting the 
vast majority of the nation, regarded with an evil 
eye the favor shown to the Huguenots by the Gov- 
ernment. All trials for heresy had ceased, the 
prison doors had been opened to those confined on 
account of their religion, the banished were invited 
to return, and though all public assemblies for wor- 
ship were still legally prohibited, the law was not 
rigorously carried out. Under cover of the virtual 
toleration thus extended to them, the Huguenots 
made many open, in some instances offensive, ex- 
hibitions of their strength. They had not hesita- 
ted in a few cases to appropriate to their own use 
churches of the Catholics, cleansing them from all 
vc jtiges of idolatrous worship. Feeling the pulse 
of the nation beat strongly against the Government, 
the Guises saw that the opportunity for recovery 
of their power had come. By the help of that aged 
intriguer, the Duchess of Yalentinois, they effected 


a reconciliation between the Constable and the 
Marshal St. Andre. 

The Chancellor, De l'Hopital, under whose wise 
and temperate guidance Catherine had hitherto 
been acting, felt that it was necessary to take a de- 
cided step. He resolved that it should be one in 
advance ; nothing short, in fact, of the formal and 
legal recognition of the Reformed faith in France. 
In January 1562, he called together Deputies from 
all the seven Parliaments of the kingdom, the 
Council of State, the Pi'inces of the blood, and the 
chief nobility. In his opening address, De l'Hopi- 
tal combated with the utmost strenuousness the 
advice of those who desired to see the King put 
himself at the head of one religious party in the 
State in order to crush the other. " It were a 
thing," he said, " unworthy not only of Christian- 
ity but of humanity. Whichever party gained, it 
would be a victory as sad for the conquerors as for 
the conquered. Deprecating all such remedies, let 
us seek one more analogous to the nature of the 
evil ; an evil which being purely moral will never 
yield to mere physical applications. Waste not, then, 
your time in determining which of the two religions 
is the best. We are here not to establish a docrma 
of faith, but to regulate an affair of State. Ought 
the new religion to be tolerated according to the 
demand of the Nobles and Tiers-fitat assembled at 
Pontoise ? Must one cease to be a good subject of 
the King when he ceases to worship God as the 


King does ? Is it not possible to be a good enongh 
subject without being a Catholic or even a Chris- 
tian ? Citizens of different religious persuasions, 
can they not live together in all good harmony as 
members of the same society. These, gentlemen, 
are the questions you are called upon to decide." 
New, strange words these ; new even from De 
l'Hopital's lips. Two years before, in opening the 
States-General, he had spoken in quite other terms, 
laying it down then as a maxim that it was folly 
to expect that persons of different religions could 
ever live together in peace and amity. But those 
two years' study of the state of France have opened 
the Chancellors mind, and now he is the first pub- 
lic man in France to announce the true idea of 

After twelve days' stormy debate he carried the 
measure the Magna Charta of religious liberty in 
France by which Protestantism was legally ac- 
knowledged and protected. This Edict, generally 
spoken of by historians as the Edict of January, sus- 
pended the execution of all pains and penalties on 
account of religion till the decision of a General 
Council, and granted liberty to the Huguenots to 
assemble for public worship, they binding them- 
selves to teach no other doctrines than those contain- 
ed in the books of the Old and New Testaments and 
in the Creed of the Council of Nice, and not to hold 
their Synods without pel-mission from a magistrate. 
Moderate as it was in its concessions, this Edict 


was gratefully and joyfully accepted by the Hugue- 
nots. Their adversaries regarded it as so fatal a 
blow to the religious unity of the kingdom, so 
ruinous to the State, so dishonoring to God, that 
they resolved to disobey it, though at the cost of 
thereby generating a civil war. 

Before plunging into the conflict, the Guises, 
knowing that it would be to the Protestant Princes 
of Germany that, in the event of hostilities break- 
ing out, the Huguenots would apply for aid, invi- 
ted Christopher, Duke of Wiirtemberg, whose po- 
sition and character placed him among the first of 
these princes, to an interview at Saverne. The 
Duke, accompanied by his chief theologians, reach- 
ed that city on the 13th February 1562, and found 
the Duke of Guise and his brother, the Cardinal, 
awaiting his arrival. Next morning the Cardinal 
preached a sermon, in which neither the Lutheran 
Duke nor any of his divines could find any thing 
objectionable. That evening Francis of Guise had 
a private interview with the Duke of Wiirtemberg. 
" I am but a man of arms," said Francis, " and know 
little about these matters. I have been brought up 
in the faith of my fathers, but if any one will con- 
vince me I am in error, I will readily acknowledge 
it. Those ministers at Poissy called us Catholics 
idolaters. What is idolatry ? " " It is idolatry," 
said the Duke of Wiirtemberg, " when one adores 
any other God than the true one ; when one seeks 
any other mediator than Jesus Christ ; and when 


one puts his confidence for salvation in saints, the 
Yirsrin Marv, or his own merits." " I adore God 
only," said Guise ; " I confide only in Jesus Christ. 
I know well that neither the saints nor the Virgin 
can aid me; that it is Christ alone and not my 
works must save me." Delighted at meeting one 
so open, so frank, already so far advanced, the Duke 
of Wiirtemberg discoursed at large to his attentive 
auditor. Apparently convinced by his arguments 
and eloquence, the Duke of Guise ended by saying, 
"Weil, these things are quite new to me ; but if it 
be as you say, then I am a Lutheran, but you must 
speak to my brother about all this." 

Next morning at seven o'clock Francis entered 
the apartment of Christopher. " My mind," said 
he, " has been so frill of the subject of our conver- 
sation that I have slept none last night. I have 
told something of it to my brother the Cardinal, 
who would like much to have a conversation with 
Brentius in your presence." The German Prince 
most readily assented. At eight o'clock the Car- 
dinal preached a second sermon, more decidedly 
Lutheran than the first. A conference was held 
afterwards. Brentius, at the Cardinal's desire, 
stated the leading points of controversy between 
the two communions, the Lutheran and the Roman 
Catholic, dwelling particularly upon the mass. 
" No doubt," said the Cardinal, " Catholicism has 
gone too far in its exegesis of the Supper." They 
spoke then of the means of reconciling the two 


communions. " If the ministers at Poissy," said 
the Cardinal, " had accepted the Confession of 
Augsburg, I should have got the Prelates to range 
themselves on the same side." " Had Beza, then, 
and his friends," said the Duke of Wurtemberg, 
" signed that Confession, would you have signed 
it % " " Certainly," said Charles of Lorraine, " I 
take God to witness that I think and believe as I 
now say, and that by the grace of God I shall live 
and die in these sentiments. I have read the Con- 
fession of Augsburg. I have read also those of 
Melanchthon and Brentius, and others. I entirely 
approve of their doctrines ; I agree with them in 
all that relates to ecclesiastical discipline ; but it is 
necessary that for a time I conceal these sentiments 
to gain those who are weaker in the faith." Bren- 
tius entreated him to labor for the advancement 
of the gospel and the attainment of religious con- 
cord in France. " I promise to do it," said the Car- 
dinal ; " but it is difficult to do any thing with 
those wrong-headed Calvinists," upon whose wrong- 
headedness he continued to descant. The strange 
conference broke up, the Guises having succeeded 
in injecting into the minds of the Germans an un- 
merited confidence in themselves, and a suspicion 
and dislike of the Huguenots. 

Quitting Saverne, the Princes of Lorraine re- 
tired to Joinville, the residence of their mother 
Antoinette de Bourbon. Hearing strange rumors 
as to the progress of the Triumvirate, the Queen- 


mother despatched an order to the Duke that he 
should remain at Joinville. He got other instruc- 
tions, however, from his friends in Paris, which he 
resolved rather to obey. Every thing was now 
ripe for open resistance to the Edict of January, 
and his presence was required to assist in carrying 
the preconcerted measures into execution. By the 
way, an event occurred which precipitated those 
measures, and plunged France at once into all the 
horrors of a wide-spread civil and religious war. 

Three leagues from Joinville, on the way to 
Paris, lay the little town of Yassy. During the last 
few months a Huguenot congregation had sprung 
up in it, to which a large body of its inhabitants 
had attached themselves. His mother had com- 
plained bitterly to the Duke of Guise of a nuisance 
like this showing itself under the shadow of her 
chateau, and of the fruitlessness of all her attempts 
to suppress it. Early on Sunday morning the 1st 
day of March 1562, attended by a numerous and 
well-armed suite, the Duke was approaching Yassy 
on his way through it to Paris. Hearing the sound 
of bells, he asked what they were ringing for. It 
was for the service of the Huguenots, he was told. 
It threw him into a towering passion. Biting his 
lips and twisting his beard, as his custom was when 
in such a state, with his usual oath he exclaimed, 
" We will huguenot them presently in a different 
fashion ; march, gentlemen, we must see them 
while they meet." Entering the town he dis- 


mounted before the convent, which stood about 200 
paces from the building a large barn in which 
the Huguenots were assembled. 

After a short interview with some of the town- 
authorities, he placed himself at the head of his fol- 
lowers and proceeded to the building, in which 1200 
persons were engaged in worship. The Duke's 
company got wild with excitement by the way. The 
prayers were over, and the minister, Morel, had be- 
gun his discourse, when the hootings and shoutings 
of the approaching band was heard. Presently two 
shots were heard, fired by some of the Duke's peo- 
ple at the upper windows. Those witliin who were 
nearest the entrance-door rushed forward to close it. 
They were too late. Sword in hand the Duke's 
men broke in, stabbing and shooting right and left. 
Some stones were thrown ; one struck the Duke. 
The fury of the assailants then knew no bounds. 
Unable to get out at the door, the Huguenots tore 
up part of the roof of the building, and some of 
them tried to escape along the tops of the neighbor- 
ing houses. They were discovered and made shot- 
marks of, a servant of the Duke's boasting after- 
wards that with his own arquebuse he had brought 
down half a dozen of those pigeons. The *Duke 
with drawn sword was himself within the building 
urging on the carnage. Sixty were killed upon the 
spot, more than two hundred severely wounded. 

The minister kept his place and continued his 
discourse till a shot struck the pulpit. Throwing off 


his gown, he tried like others to escape. In doing 
so he fell over a dead body, and when down got a 
sabre-cut across the shoulders. He rose, but he had 
scarcely done so when several sabre-strokes fell upon 
his head. Again he fell, but some one recognized 
him and carried him to the Duke. " Are you the 
minister ? " said the Duke ; " what makes you se- 
duce these people ? " "I am no seducer," answered 
Morel, " but a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus 
Christ." " Does the Gospel, then," said the Duke, 
" preach sedition ? You are the true cause of the 
death of all these people, and you shall be hanged 
this moment." He turned and gave an order to 
this effect to the Provost, but there was no one at 
hand to execute it. 

The sackers of the chapel now brought the Bi- 
ble that they had found in the deserted pulpit. Tak- 
ing it into his hands the Duke went out, and calling 
to the Cardinal, who all the while had been lounging 
upon the walls of an adjoining cemetery, " There, 
brother," said he, " look at one of these cursed Hu- 
guenot books." The Cardinal, with the volume in 
his hands, cast a glance at its title-page, and said, 
" There's no great harm in it ; it is the Bible, the 
Holy Scriptures." " How ! " said the Duke, "the 
Holy Scriptures. It is fifteen hundred years since 
Jesus Christ suffered death and passion, and it is but 
a year since that book was made. Do you call that 
the Gospel ? it is good for nothing." As he turned 
away in his blind passion, the Cardinal was heard 


quietly saying, "My brother is in the wrong." 
Walking up and down before the now blood-stained 
and desolated chapel, the Duke called for the Judge 
of the district, and demanded of him why he had 
tolerated this conventicle. The Edict of January 
was pleaded by the Judge in his defence. " Detest- 
able edict ! " said the Duke, grasping his sword : 
" this shall cut it asunder." 

The massacre of Yassy, 1 committed in open 
day, in flagrant violation of the law that secured to 
them the free exercise of their religion, filled the 
hearts of the Huguenots with grief and indignation. 
The news of it spread speedily over the country. 
Rude engravings, horribly accurate in their details, 
were scattered over France, and copied and circu- 
lated in Germany. The whole Protestant world 
was filled with horror at the deed. The Duke of 
Guise, aware that the decisive step had at last been 
taken, hastened on to Paris. The tidings of the 
affair at Yassy had preceded him. His entry into 

1 Prior to the Revolution of 1789 there was a convent of 
Irish Capuchins at Vassy. At its suppression, Father Mac- 
nulty, known under the name of Pere Casimir, left an old 
coffer of the convent in charge of a merchant of Vassy named 
Delauney. The coffer was carefully preserved, and never 
opened till 1835, when its contents were inspected in the 
presence of a Justice of Peace. Among other papers which 
it contained was found a manuscript account of the Massacre 
of Vassy. M. Horace Gourjon published this account in 1844. 
It is almost verbatim the same with that given in the Mar- 
tyrology of Crespin, that compilation whose accuracy every 
late historical investigation is serving to confirm. 


the city was a triumphal ovation. On his right 
hand rode the Marshal St. Andre, on his left the 
Constable; more than 1200 noblemen and gentle- 
men followed in his train. The mayor of the city 
met him at the gate of St. Denis, and presented 
him with a congratulatory address. The assembled 
multitudes rent the skies with their acclamations, 
hailing him as the champion of the faith. 

Catherine de Medicis had heard at Monceaux 
where the Court then was, of what happened at 
Yassy, and of the Duke's approach to Paris. She 
wrote commanding him to lay down his arms, and 
to repair to Monceaux attended by twelve gentle- 
men. The order was disobeyed. The Duke pre- 
ferred to receive the ovation that he knew awaited 
him at Paris. And now there came to Monceaux, 
couriers from Conde and deputies from the Re- 
formed churches, entreating the interference of the 
Government. It was a critical moment in the his- 
tory of the Queen-mother. She inquired eagerly as 
to the strength of the Huguenots. The Deputies 
showed her a list of 2150 churches, and assured 
her that they could bring into the held an army of 
50,000 men. Still undecided, unwilling to throw 
herself into the hands of the Triumvirate by going 
to Paris, but as unwilling to throw herself into the 
hands of the Huguenots by going to Orleans, their 
stronghold at this time, she retired first to Melnn, 
and afterwards to Fontainebleau. The arrogance 
of the Guises seems at last to have determined her. 


From Fontainebleau she wrote in the most urgent 
terms to Conde, entreating him to come and take 
her and the young King under his protection. 

Conde, forced to retire from Paris, was now at 
Meaux. Whether from distrust of the Queen- 
mother, or from thinking that the force he had was 
too feeble, he hesitated to take the step. The hesi- 
tation was fatal to the Huguenots ; it lost them the 
opportunity of carrying the authority of the young 
King over to their side. Prompter and less scru- 
pulous, the Triumvirs proceeded at once with a 
sufficient force to Fontainebleau, and informed 
the Queen-Regent that they came to conduct her 
and their young monarch to Paris. For the mo- 
ment, Catherine resisted, and resented this attempt 
to coerce her movements. " She would not move," 
she said, " till moved by force."' " She may re- 
main here or quit the kingdom as she likes," was 
the haughty answer of the Duke of Guise ; " the 
thing is indifferent to us ; the King must go with 
us, whether she will or no." To part from her 
son was political death to Catherine. She gave 
way, and was conducted in triumph to Paris. 

For months past, Coligni had been living quiet- 
ly at his country-seat at Chatillon. A faithful pic- 
ture of his daily life there has been handed down 
to us. It shows a household fashioned after the 
strictest Puritan model : the early hours, the fixed 
methodical routine, the frequent prayers, the fer- 
vent psalmody, the preachings almost every day. 


But there was no tinge either of asceticism or fa- 
naticism in the piety of Coligni. He was an unself- 
ish patriot, and a far-seeing politician as well as a 
devoted Christian. Scarce a forenoon passed at 
Chatillon in which some deputy from one or othei 
of the Reformed Churches was not received, com- 
ing to him for advice, and getting evidence, in the 
counsel that he gave, of his gentleness and modera- 
tion as well as his sagacity. But now the quiet of 
that country life is broken. He hears of the mas 
sacre at Yassy. Couriers from the impetuous 
Conde come to the chateau, telling him of the oc- 
cupation of Paris by the Triumvirate, of the reso- 
lution openly avowed to trample under foot the 
Edict of January. Fresh messengers arrive to tell 
him that all Protestant France is up in arms, ready 
to take the field, and summoning him to join the 
Prince of Conde and share in the command. Hie 
wife and brothers press him to depart. He hesi- 
tates. Calvin's repugnance to the use of arms is 
also in a large measure his. No eye in France sees 
half so far as his into the miseries and crimes into 
which a religious war must plunge his country. 
"Would they but let that edict stand ; would they 
but let the true faith live and breathe, though it 
were within narrow limits, and in a hampered 
straitened way, he should be content. Strifes of 
rival houses struggling for political power, what 
were they to him ? Besides, if war were entered 
on, failure would doom Protestantism to extinction: 


and was there any thing like a fair promise of suc- 
cess ? Coligni could not see his way at first to draw 
the sword. 

But now came tidings, day by day, of the atro- 
cities of Yassy repeated here and there all over 
France ; of the Catholics rising upon the Calvinists 
at Chalons, Sens, Anxerre, and Tours; of 3000 
men, women, and children murdered. Coligni's 
heart was rent by the recital. One night, with sobs 
and tears, his wife, the truly noble Charlotte de 
Laval, besought him to depart. " Are you pre- 
pared," he said to her, " to receive the intelligence 
of defeat, to see your husband branded as a rebel, 
and dragged to a scaffold ; your children disgraced 
and ruined, begging their bread at the hands of 
their enemies ? I will give you three weeks to re- 
flect." " The three weeks are already past," was 
her chivalrous reply. " Go, in God's name, and 
He will not suffer you to be vanquished." Next 
day Coligni was on his way to join Conde at Meaux. 

If slower than others to draw it, Coligni was 
for decisive measures when once the sword was 
drawn. His advice was to march instantly on 
Paris, and meet the enemy in the open field. The 
Huguenot troops might be inferior in number, but 
Coligni's own companies were men upon whom he 
could fully count. He had inspired his own spirit 
into them. They were under the strictest discip- 
line ; no license of any kind was given. A Calvin- 
ist minister was placed over each regiment. They 


were drilled daily, not only in martial movements, 
but to know and feel that they were soldiers of the 
Cross, called to do battle for the true faith. Had 
the Admiral been at the head of the movement, 
with none but his Huguenot soldiers under him, 
there might have been seen in France, a hundred 
years before Cromwell's time, a little army of Iron- 
sides, that had proved invincible in the field. 
But the Barons brought other kinds of men, and 
other kinds of ideas into the field. The Prince, to 
whom the chief command belonged, shrunk from 
following the Admiral's advice. The Queen-mother, 
whose boast was that her tongue and pen were 
more powerful than the swords of the greatest 
captains, got him entangled in negotiations. The 
summer months of 1562 were wasted thu>. 

But while the chiefs on either side hesitated, 
the country took the matter into its own hands. 
The note of open war was no sooner sounded, than 
in the south-western provinces, in which the Hu- 
guenots prevailed, they rose against the Catholics ; 
in the north-western, in which the Catholics pre- 
vailed, they rose against the Huguenots. For weeks 
and months, the blindest, wildest, bloodiest, fanati- 
cism ran riot over France. Where the Huguenots 
had power, the Catholic worship was abolished. 
The priests were driven away or killed; the 
churches were sacked, their altars overturned, their 
images broken, their relics scattered and defiled, 
their baptismal fonts turned to the vilest uses. 


The shrines of saints, the tombs of kings, whatever 
monument was venerable by age or otherwise, was 
marked for ruin. The ashes of Irenseus were flung 
into the Rhone, those of St. Martin of Tours into 
the Loire, the sepulchres of Louis XL at Cleri, of 
"Richard Coeur de Lion at Rouen, of William the 
Conqueror at Caen, were rifled and desecrated. 
The Catholics had no churches of their opponents 
to pillage, no images of theirs to break. Their 
wrath directed itself not against dead monuments, 
but against living men. In that region, spurred 
on by the priests, and encouraged by a terrible 
Edict of the Parliament of Paris, which doomed 
every Huguenot to death and called upon the faith- 
ful everywhere to arise, and without form of law, 
to execute that doom, it was a frightful havoc that 
they wrought. "We read of a stream of Huguenot 
blood running in one place nearly a foot deep. 
We would shut our eyes upon such horrors, were it 
not that it is so useful, by thorough inspection of 
them, to be taught into what fearful excesses relig- 
ious wars have run. 

Blaise de Montluc was commissioned by the 
Government to reduce the Huguenot district of 
Guienne. Let us listen to Montluc himself, as in his 
commentaries, written many years after, and in 
cold blood, he describes to us the beginning of his 
operations. " I privately," he says, " got two hang- 
men (whom they have since called my lacquais, be- 
cause they were often at my heels), determining 


to execute all the cruelty I could, for I saw very 
well that gentle means would never reclaim those 
cankered and inveterate rascals. So soon as I came 
to St. Mezard, Monsieur de Fontenelles presented 
three prisoners, all bound in the churchyard, in 
which there was yet remaining the foot of a stone 
cross that they had broken. I had my two hang- 
men behind me, well equipped with their tackle, and 
especially with a very sharp axe, when, flying in 
great fury upon one of the three, I took him by the 
collar, saying, ' O thou confounded rogue, dost thou 
defile thy wicked tongue against the majesty of thy 
King and Sovereign % ' To which he replied, 'Ah, 
Sir, have mercy upon a poor sinner ! ' At which, 
more enraged than before, I said to him, ' Thou un- 
gracious rascal, wouldst thou have me to have mer- 
cy upon thee who hadst no reverence nor respect 
for thy King ? ' and with that I pushed him rudely 
to the ground, so that his neck fell exactly upon 
the piece of the cross, crying to the hangman, 
' Strike villain,' which he did, and so nimbly, that my 
word and the blow were the one as soon as the oth- 
er, which fetched off his head, and, moreover, above 
another half-foot of the cross. The other two I 
caused to be hanged upon an elm that was close by. 
This was the first execution I did at my arriving 
from my own house." 

The thousands that followed were done by 
Montluc in the same style, so that, as he seems 
pleased to tell us, " one might mark the road I took 
by the trees on which my ensigns hung." 


Montluc's terrible doings in Guienne were ri- 
valled by a Huguenot captain, the Baron des Adrets 
in Dauphiny. So swift in motion, so fiery in as- 
sault, was Des Adrets, and his name at last carried 
with it such a spell of terror, that the best fortified * 
cities flung open at once their gates at his approach. 
But few escaped who fell into his hands. The gar- 
rison of the lofty stronghold of Maugiron were all put 
to the sword, with the exception of a few whom he 
reserved till after dinner, to enjoy the savage glee 
of making them, one after another, leap down from 
the highest tower. One of them alone escaped. 
Three times he had taken the preparatory run, but 
each time had halted at the brink. Des Adrets re- 
proached him with cowardice in having three times 
failed. "Baron," said the man, turning quickly 
round to him, " brave as you are, I will give you 
ten trials to do it in." The Baron spared him for 
his reply. Equal in cruelty, on opposite sides, as 
were Montluc and Des Adrets, there was this differ- 
ence between them : the one gloried afterwards in 
the blood he had shed ; the other endeavored to ex- 
cuse it. The one received for his services a letter 
of thanks from the Pope, the acknowledgment of 
his own government, and the rank of Marshal in the 
French army ; the other was openly censured by 
Conde and Coligni, took offence at the manner in 
which he was treated by the Protestants, and finally 
forsook their ranks. 

The leaders on both sides, at Orleans and at 


Paris, fearing to act upon the offensive with so 
small a body of native troops as they had been able 
to muster, had, during the summer months, been 
seeking foreign aid, the Huguenots at first un- 
willingly, the Admiral strenuously opposing it. 
When it was known, however, that Spanish and 
Swiss troops had been engaged to act against them, 
Coligni withdrew his opposition. On the 20th 
September, a treaty was signed at Hampton Court, 
by which the English Government agreed to furnish 
140,000 crowns and 6000 men, on condition, how- 
ever, that the town of Havre should be put into 
their hands, a condition, the granting of which 
did no small injury to the Huguenot cause in 
France. D'Andelot was despatched to Germany, 
where, after overcoming many difficulties, he gath- 
ered round him some thousands of those Reiter, 
heav} T cavalry, armed with pistols, whose attacks, 
in close, deep columns, had proved so formidable in 
so many fields. Instantly on their arrival, Conde 
took the field and marched on Paris. The wily 
Catherine once more entangled him in her snares, 
and kept him inactive till such a large body of 
Spaniards and Swiss had entered the city, as to cut 
off all hope of successfully assaulting it. Conde re- ' 
tired into Xormandy. The army of the Triumvirs 
hastened after him to cut off his retreat. 

On the 18th December, near the village of 
Dreux, on the plain that stretches between the 
Blaise and the Eure, two tributaries of the Seine, 


the two armies found themselves in front of one 
another, and the first great battle of those wars was 
fought. The Catholic army was composed of 16,000 
infantry and 3000 cavalry, in all 19,000 men ; the 
Huguenot army of 5000 infantry and 8000 cavalry, 
in all 13,000 men. The great numerical inferiority 
of the Protestants was in part made up for "fay the 
ground being so favorable for the movements of 
the cavalry, that branch in which they were the 
strongest. Conde, with Coligni and D'Andelot 
under him, led the one army ; the old Constable, 
with the Duke of Guise and the Marshal St. Andre 
under him, led the other. For two hours the 
armies stood gazing at each other in perfect still- 
ness, many in each thinking of the friends and rela- 
tions that were in the opposing ranks. But when 
the close-handed fight began, which lasted for full 
seven hours, it was carried on with extreme ferocity. 
At first all seemed to go in favor of the Huguenots. 
Conde, with his natural impetuosity, flung himself 
with his gallant French lances on the Swiss, who 
sustained the shock with a steadiness worthy the 
reputation gained upon so many fields. At last, 
however, their ranks were broken, and they were 
forced into retreat. The Admiral, leading 1200 
German Reiter, was no less successful against the 
division of the French army led by the Constable 
in person. That gallant old general, his horse shot 
under him, his jaw broken by a pistol -bullet, his 
throat choked with blood unable any longer to 


let his -word of command be heard was forced to 
yield himself prisoner. The confusion of the Cath- 
olic army became general, apparently irretrievable. 
The Huguenots looked on the day as already theirs. 
Scattered over the field, they had already begun 
the work of pillage. 

The eyes, however, of the two best captains in 
the field were still studying the bloody fray. The 
Admiral felt insecure. He had noticed a dense 
company of the enemy, which had remained motion- 
less on the left. While the shout of victory was 
ringing in his own ranks, he fixed an imeasy look 
upon that company, and said, " TTe deceive our- 
selves. TTe shall soon see that great cloud discharge 
itself upon us." He was not mistaken. The Duke 
of Guise, with a chosen troop of men-at-arms, had 
stationed himself at the beginning of the action on 
a rising ground somewhat in the rear. He watch- 
ed there the progress of the fight. The retreat of 
the Swiss, the confusion and flight of a large body 
of the Catholic army, did not seem to move him. 
The Constable's son, Damville, galloped up to him, 
and entreated him to fly to his lathers rescue. 
- Xot yet, my son ; not yet,'" was the Duke's re- 
ply. All he did was to command his ranks to open. 
He rode out to the front, rose upon his stirrups, 
and looked round upon the field. At last the time 
for action came. Turning to his men, and putting 
spurs to his horse, he cried, " Come on, my friends, 
the day is ours." Dashing forward, he took up by 


the way the yet unbroken division of St. Andre, 
and threw himself upon the surprised, exhausted 
Huguenots. The charge was decisive. The Pro- 
testants were utterly routed. Conde was taken 
prisoner. Coligni and D'Andelot, after the most 
determined struggles to retrive the fortunes of the 
day, were forced to retire. It was a proud day for 
the Duke of Guise : for the victory was wholly of 
his gaining. The Constable was in the hands of 
the enemy. The Marshal St. Andre had fallen in 
the fray. The undivided command of the royal 
army was in his hands, nor was there any one to 
dispute his general influence over the Government. 
He closed a day that raised him to such a pinnacle 
of power, by an act of chivalrous courtesy to his 
distinguished prisoner. The Prince of Conde was 
received by him into his own tent. They slept 
that night in the same bed, Conde relating after- 
wards that he never closed his eyes, but that the 
Duke slept as soundly as if nothing had occurred. 

The Duke was too good a general not to follow 
up his success at Dreux. Taking a few weeks to 
recruit his army, he led it, flushed with victory, for- 
ward to Orleans. That city was the stronghold of 
the Huguenots. Their ablest ministers, the wife 
and eldest son of Conde, the wives and families and 
movable estates of many of their nobles and gentry, 
their important prisoner the Constable, were all 
shut up within its walls. Trusting mainly to the 
bridge and towers which guarded it the Tourelles 


which had witnessed one of the greatest exploits 
of the Maid of Orleans D'Andelot, who com- 
manded the garrison, had engaged to keep Guise 
before the city till the Admiral returned from ISor- 
mandy to raise the siege. An accidental and un- 
expected success put the southern suburb, that part 
of the city which lay on the south side of the Loire, 
into the Duke's hands. The bridge and towers 
were captured in a night attack. The other for- 
tifications of the city were too weak and the garri- 
son too feeble to resist an assault. The Duke look- 
ed upon the city as already his, and proceeded to 
lay before his officers his plan for terminating the 
war. Orleans taken, he was to call out the Arriere- 
ban all the nobility of France from eighteen to 
sixty years of age, with their retainers to gather 
all the regular forces scattered throughout the king- 
dom, pursue the Admiral into Xormaudy, cut his 
troops to pieces, drive the English into the sea, and 
so quench the Huguenot spirit in France, a bright 
and not improbable perspective. 

The first step, at least, seemed sure. The 19th 
February was fixed on as the day for the assault at 
Orleans. The Duke wrote to the Queen-mother 
that the city must inevitably be taken, and that he- 
hoped she would not blame him if he slew every 
living thing within the walls, razed it to the ground, 
and sowed its foundations with salt. On the 18th, 
he visited the trenches, and saw that all was ready 
for next day's bloody work. In the dusk of the 


evening, he was returning to the chateau in which 
he slept. He had just passed two walnut trees 
which stood where two roads met, when the click 
of a trigger was heard immediately behind his back ; 
a shot was fired ; three balls entered his right shoul- 
der and passed out through his breast. At first he 
bent to his horse's neck, then raising himself, he 
said, " They owed me this, but it will be nothing." 
He tried to grasp his sword, but his arm hung use- 
less by his side ; another impression came over him, 
he felt that the wound was mortal. They bore him 
to his chamber. All that the surgical skill of those 
days could do was done, but without effect. The 
skill of the regular practitioner failing, there was 
presented to the Duke's notice some early discoverer 
of the water-cure one reputed to have done won- 
ders in the cure of wounds, by use of linens and of 
water. The Duke refused to be treated in that 
way. " He would have," he said, " no other reme- 
dies than those proceeding from the Divine good- 
ness ; he would rather die than give himself to en- 
chantments forbidden of God." 

His end approaching, he met his fate, that came 
upon him at the very time when all that ambition 
sought for seemed within his grasp, with the ut- 
most fortitude and resignation. In the most urgent 
terms he asked that his death should not be avenged. 
Most tenderly he warned his son against ambi- 
tion, bidding him beware how for worldly distinc- 
tion he stained his soul with violence or crime. 


Some of his own excesses he admitted, but tried 
partially to excuse. The Massacre of Yassy he fre- 
quently alluded to, solemnly declaring that on his 
part it was unpremeditated. He advised the Queen- 
Regent, who had hastened to Orleans to see him, 
to make peace as speedily as possible. Long speech- 
es and prayers have been preserved, not likely to 
have been spoken as they are given. But there is 
reason to believe that the last hours of the Duke 
of Guise were those of an affectionate, devout, and 
generous spirit ; nor do we remember another to 
whom the familiar words of Shakspeare might 
more fitly be applied 

" Nothing in his life 
Became him like the leaving it." 




Kingdom of Navarre. Birth, education, and marriage of 
Jeanne D'Albret. Birth of Henry IV. The Queen be- 
comes a Protestant. Letter to the Cardinal d'Armagnac. 
Bull of the Pope. Plot of Phillip II. Code of laws. 
Conferences at Bayonne. Glimpses of Prince Henry. 
Breaking out of the war. Battle of St. Denis. The Queen, 
Prince Henry, and Conde at Rochelle. Battle of Jarnac. 
The Queen's address to the soldiers. Battle of Moncon- 
tour. Invasion of Navarre. Arnay-le-Duc. Proposed 
marriage of Prince Henry with Marguerite of Valois, sis- 
ter of Charles IX. Illness and death of Jeanne d'Albret. 
Her character. 

Foe seven centuries the Pyrenees saw both 
their northern and southern slopes occupied by a 
small but separate sovereignty, which owed the 
independence it had so long preserved not so much 
to the strength of its natural defences as to the dis- 
tracted condition of the neighboring countries of 
France and Spain. It boded ill for this little king- 
dom of Navarre when Aragon and Castile were 
united, the Moorish kingdom of Granada overturn- 
ed, and Ferdinand the Catholic planted on his 


"brows the crown of a broad and powerful mon- 
archy. He had scarcely done so when, casting a 
covetous eye upon the province that obtruded itself 
between Castile and Aragon, he sought and found 
a pretext for invasion, and in the year 1515 united 
it to the other provinces of Spain. Besides the 
Spanish province thus appropriated, which gave its 
name to the kingdom of Navarre, that kingdom em- 
braced a large tract of country lying on the French 
side of the Pyrenees, including the principality of 
Beam and the counties of Foix, Armagnac, Al- 
bret, Bigorre, and Comminges. Catherine de 
Foix, the heiress of this kingdom, had in 1491 car- 
ried it by marriage into the house of D'Albret. 
Henry, 'the second King of Navarre belonging to 
this house, was in 1528 united to Marguerite 
d'Angouleme, the favorite and devoted sister of 
Francis I. of France. Pampeluna, the ancient 
capital of their kingdom, being in the hands of 
the King of Spain, Henry and Marguerite held 
their Court at Nerac, the chief town of the duchy 
belonging to the family of D'Albret. It was at 
Nerac that Marguerite, herself more than half a 
Huguenot, opened an asylum to her persecuted 
fellow-countrymen . Farel , Calvin , Beza sought tem- 
porary refuge and found glad welcome there, while 
to Lefevre, Clement Marot, and Gerard Eoussel it 
became a second home. Marguerite died in 1549, 
leaving only one child, a daughter, who, in the event 
of her father having no issue by any second mar- 


riage, became ' heiress to the crown of Navarre. 
Born in 1528, Jeanne d'Albret had early and bitter 
experience of what heirship to such a crown in- 
volved. The Emperor Charles Y. was believed to 
have early fixed his eye on her as a tit consort for 
Philip, his son and successor. Such an alliance 
would not only have prevented the question of th e 
recovery of the lost province of Navarre from being 
raised, but would have given to Spain a footing on 
French soil, of which large advantage might have 
been taken. Suspecting and determined to thwart 
the project of his great adversary, Francis I. took 
his little niece into his own especial custody, would 
not let her pass out of France, nor go to receive 
her education at Nerac. Assigning the royal 
castle of Plessis-les-Tours to her, he insisted that 
she should live there, apart from her parents ; and 
to remove any objections on that score, he under- 
took himself to defray the expenses of her house- 
hold. It was in that gloomy abode (familiar to us 
from the pages of Quentin Durward), every legend 
of whose past history she greedily devoured, that 
so many as fifteen years of her childhood and youth 
were spent, years that threw a sombre shade over 
her character for often, we are told, "her cham- 
ber echoed with her lamentations, and the air was 
laden with her sighs," but years, at the same time, 
in which, under the ablest instructors, she received 
an education more solid, as well as more extensive, 
than she might have got had she been living in the 


neighborhood of the Court. Her uncle had in 
the first instance destined her to be the bride of 
his second son, who "was afterwards his successor 
upon the throne. Changing his purpose, however, 
to suit his political designs, Henry was affianced to 
Catherine de Medicis. How different that dark 
and troubled reign of Henry II. of France might 
have been had Francis's first purpose been carried 
out ! One day, when Jeanne was about twelve 
years old, the dreariness of her abode atPlessiswas 
disturbed by the sudden appearance of her royal 
uncle. She received him with transports of delight. 
The joy, however, was but short-lived. He came 
to tell her that it was his royal will and pleasure 
that she should wed a German prince the young 
Duke of Cleves. The abrupt proposal was resisted 
and resented by the young Princess with a vehe- 
mence which she was at no pains to conceal. But 
Francis was inexorable. She must come to Court 
at once, to be betrothed to her intended husband. 
Jeanne appealed to her parents. They told her 
she must submit. By her as by them the will of 
Francis must be done. Not by her, however, with- 
out token of vigorous resistance. All outward op- 
position vain, she drew up with her own hand the 
following protest, which she got three of the offi- 
cers of her household to witness : " I, Jeanne de 
Navarre, do hereby again affirm and protest that 
the marriage which it is desired to contract between 
the Duke of Cleves and myself is against my will ; 


that I never have consented to it, nor will consent ; 
and that whatever I may say or do hereafter, by 
which it may be attempted to prove that I have 
given my consent, will be forcibly extorted against 
my wish, from dread of the King my father, and 
the Queen my mother, who has threatened to have 
me whipped by my Governess. By command of 
the Queen, my mother, the said governess has also 
several times declared that if I do not all in regard 
to this marriage which the King wishes, I shall be 
punished so severely as to occasion my death, and 
that by refusing I might be the cause of the total 
ruin of my father, my mother, and of their house, 
the which has impressed me with such fear that I 
know, not to whom to have recourse excepting to 
God, seeing that my father and my mother aban- 
don me, who both know well what I have said to 
them, that never can I love the Duke of Cleves, 
and that I will not have him. Therefore I pro- 
test beforehand, that if it happen I am affianced or 
married to the said Duke in any way or manner, it 
will be against my heart and in defiance of my will ; 
and that he shall never become my husband, nor 
will I hold and regard him as such." The girl but 
twelve years old who thought of making such a 
protest, and who put it into such pithy words, 
gave early proof of that independence and strength 
of will, which, brought afterwards under the con- 
trol of the highest principles of action, contributed 
to the formation of one of the noblest female char- 


acters that has ever filled a throne. Despite of her 
protests, again and again repeated, Jeanne was be- 
trothed to the Duke of Cleves, and the marriage 
ceremony was performed. The marriage, however, 
was not to be consummated till three years after- 
wards. Within that interval the Duke acted so 
that Francis became as eager to prevent as ever he 
had been to promote the marriage. The bond al- 
ready formed was broken, and the union never 
took place. 

The next hand offered to Jeanne, and which 
she accepted, was that of Antoine, elder brother of 
the Prince of Conde, and head of the Bourbon fam- 
ily. They were married in 1548, a year after the 
death of Francis I., and a year before that of his sis- 
ter Marguerite, Jeanne's mother. The marriage 
was an unfortunate one. Ambitious, yet weak and 
vain ; frivolous and vacillating yet headstrong and 
impetuous, faithless to his wife, faithless to his prin- 
ciples, faithless to his party, Antoine became the 
butt and victim of the policy of the Court. But 
though unfortunate in so many respects, this mar- 
riage gave to France, if not the greatest, the most 
fortunate, the most popular, the most beloved of 
all her monarchs. At first, indeed, Jeanne's hope 
of giving an heir even to the small kingdom of 
Navarre seemed doomed to disappointment. Her 
eldest child, a son, was confided to the care of an 
infirm and crotchety old lady, whose fancy was that 
of all hurtful things air and exercise were the most 


hurtful, who immured her infant charge night and 
day in an apartment close hung with arras, which 
not a breath of fresh air was permitted to enter, and 
which was heated to an oppressive degree. Under 
this treatment the infant wasted away, and in its 
second year expired. The second child, also a son, 
treated differently, was healthy and strong. One 
day, however, in his parents' absence, the nurse 
who carried the infant coming to an open window 
of the palace engaged in a somewhat too lively talk 
with one of the gentlemen ushers of the Court.. The 
talkers amused themselves by passing the infant to 
and fro between them. Unhappily he fell between 
their hands upon the pavement beneath, and a few 
days afterwards expired. Jeanne's father, Henry, 
who was still living, grew irritated at the second dis- 
appointment of his hopes. He charged his daughter 
roundly with neglect of her maternal duties, and 
threatened to marry again himself, a threat which 
he was by no means unlikely to execute. He soothed 
himself, however, by exacting from his daugh- 
ter a solemn promise, that if she had another child, 
she should repair to his city, Pau, and from its 
birth put the management of the child entirely into 
his hands a promise that she was all the readier 
to make, as she had got alarmed at the ascendancy 
Which a certain lady of noble birth had got over 
the old King, and at the rumor that he meant to 
marry her, and so legitimate a son whom he had 
by her since Marguerite's death. It was the heart 


of -winter, and Jeanne was in Picardy, when the 
time came for her to fulfil the promise she had 
made. So great was the excitement in Beam, that 
a deputation from the States of the Principality was 
deputed to Picardy to remind Jeanne of her engage- 
ment, and entreat her to keep it. Travelling back 
in company with these envoys, she reached Pau on 
the 4th December 1553, nine days before her son 
was born. She had heard that her father had made 
his will, and aware how deeply her own and her 
children's interests might be affected by it, she 
longed to penetrate the secret of its contents. 
Henry teased her by stimulating her curiosity. 
One day, when alone with her in his cabinet, the 
topic of the will once more was broached. Henry 
rose, and bringing out a little gold box, with chain 
and key attached, and holding it up before her, " My 
daughter," he said, " you see this box ; well, it con- 
tains the will ; and it shall be yours, and its con- 
tents, provided that during the birth you sing me 
a Gascon or Bearnois song, for I don't want you 
either to give me a peevish boy or a whimpering, 
whining girl." The hour came, and with it a sum- 
mons to the King, who rose in haste to visit his 
daughter. As soon as Jeanne heard his approach- 
ing footsteps, in a firm clear voice she raised the 
Bearnois chant " Notre Dame du bout du pont, 
Adjuda mi in questa houre." And bravely she 
sang on not one of the many verses of the chant 
omitted ; and so was sung into this world of ours 


the conqueror of Cintras, of D'Arques, of Ivry 
Henry IV. of France. The old King took the babe 
and wrapped it carefully in his robe. Approach- 
ing his daughter, he put the gold box into her hand. 
" That is thine, my daughter," said he, pointing to 
the box, "and this is mine," pointing to the child. 
Jeanne got the box, but it is told that the mischiev- 
ous old King forgot to let her have the key. The 
King carried the infant into his own apartment, 
where, upon committing him to his nurse, an an- 
cient Bearnois ceremony was gone through. First 
the lips of the infant were gently rubbed with a 
clove of garlic, then a wine-cup of the best Juran- 
con wine was brought, and a few drops were put 
into its mouth. It is said that at the smell of the 
wine, as it approached, the infant raised its head 
the drops at least it swallowed eagerly. " Ha," 
said the fond old grandfather, as in rapture he look- 
ed on, "Ha, thou shalt be a true Bearnois!" On 
the twelfth day the child was christened ; and in a 
room of the ancient castle of Pau a curious relic is 
still preserved, called the cradle of Henry IV., a 
large tortoise-shell, upon which, inverted, and hung 
upon cords like the scale of a balance, the infant 
was carried to the baptismal font. From the cas- 
tle of Pau the child was removed to that of Coar- 
asse, lying at the mouth of one of those Alpine val- 
leys by which the southern slopes of the Pyrenees 
are diversified. Here he was brought up after the 
true rough Bearnois fashion nursed by a peasant 


woman playing with peasant children dressed 
like them fed like them bare-headed, bare-foot- 
ed climbing with them the hill side wading with 
them the burns scrambling with them over the 
rocks braving all the heats and colds, and winds 
and rains, to which those children of the mountain 
were exposed laying thus the foundation of that 
extraordinary physical energy by which the toils 
of so many a long and arduous campaign were borne, 
not only without fatigue, but with unflagging and 
unshadowed light-heartedness. 

Happy we doubt not in the thought of leaving 
such a child behind him to till his throne, the old 
King Henry of Xavarre died in 1555, when Jean- 
ne and Antoine succeeded. Antoine was sum- 
moned immediately to the Court of St. Germain. 
Henry II. thought the opportunity a favorable one 
of attaching the Principality of Beam and its de- 
pendencies to the French crown by offering in ex- 
change territories of equal extent lying in the heart 
of France. The facile Antoine would have yielded. 
He was King of Xavarre, however, only by courte- 
sy, and nothing could be done without his wife's 
consent. Her indignation on coming to the French, 
Court and at first hearing of a design, the obvious 
effect of which was not only to strip her and her 
children of their ancient patrimony, but to bring 
them into complete subjection to the French mon- 
archy, was unbounded. Knowing, however, the 
extent to which she was already in Henry's power, 


holding, as she did, more than one of her depend- 
encies as fiefs under the French crown, she assured 
the King that if the States of Beam sanctioned the 
proposal she would not resist. Meanwhile she 
summoned to her presence the wisest and firmest 
of her Beamese councillors and friends, spread by 
their means through the Principality a knowledge 
of the sinister proposal, and roused the old spirit 
that so many centuries of independence had nur- 
tured. There were popular outbreaks against all 
supposed to be friendly to the scheme. The house 
of the Chancellor, who had lent himself to aid the 
French intrigue, was burnt to the ground. The 
States met and issued the most energetic protests ; 
and as if to show how seriously they took it, and 
were already preparing for the worst, reinforce- 
ments were voted to the garrisons of Navarreins, 
Oleron, and Pau. In consequence of the Queen's 
prompt action things were in this condition when 
she entered the Principality accompanied by the 
French Commissioners, who came prepared to ab- 
solve the States from their oath of allegiance to 
their existing sovereign, and to receive their abdi- 
cation of the kingdom. Jeanne found herself in a 
position to write to Henry " that her subjects, far 
from yielding to persuasion upon the projected 
transfer of Beam to the Crown of France, had been 
transported with fury at the simple report of 6uch 
a project ; that it was quite out of her power to 
control their repugnance ; that they had risen tu- 


inultuously in defence of their ancient privileges, 
as Iris Majesty's Commissioners could testify ; and 
that she must therefore pray the King to forego 
his purpose, and hold her absolved from pressing a 
subject so distasteful to her subjects of every rank." 
Henry unwillingly had to yield. 

It was not long, however, ere he again sought 
and found the opportunity of interfering with the 
government of Navarre. Jeanne venerated the 
memory of her mother. She was aware of Mar- 
guerite's strong leanings in favor of the Evangelical 
doctrines. The instructors under whom she had 
been educated did much to instil these doctrines 
into her mind ; but slower in all her movements 
than her mother, Jeanne did not readily imbibe 
the principles of the Reformation. "When she 
ascended the throne she was still in faith and by 
open profession a Roman Catholic. She showed 
much less favor to the Reformers than her husband 
did, who was then on the eve of openly joining their 
ranks. She did not, however, revoke or abridge 
that toleration which for so long a time had been 
granted them in Navarre. It was of tins toleration 
that Henry now complained, demanding the instant 
expulsion of the Calvinist ministers, and threaten- 
ing an armed intervention should the demand not 
at once be complied with. To ward off this sec- 
ond peril, Jeanne and her husband repaired again 
to the French Court, taking with them upon this 
occasion the young Prince Henry, then about five 
6 ' 


years old. A somewhat bitter altercation was go- 
ing on between the royal relatives, when the young 
Prince, tired of waiting in the anteroom, burst in 
upon them. The sprightliness and beauty of the 
boy quite disarmed King Henry, who, calling him 
to his side, took him up upon his knee. " Well," 
said he, " will you be my little son ? " " That's 
my father," said the bold little Prince in his native 
Bearnese dialect, pointing to Antoine. "Well 
then," said Henry, " if you won't be my son, will 
you be my son-in-law ? " Oh, with all my heart ! " 
said the child, and from that day, it is said, the ill 
fated marriage was projected. 

Jeanne returned to the comparative seclusion of 
her own Court, less than ever reconciled to Rome. 
She now gave herself to the serious study of the 
differences between the two faiths. The gravity 
of the inquiry deepened the constitutional sadness 
of her disposition. Often she was so absorbed as 
to be totally unconscious of all that was going on 
around ; then, suddenly awaking to a sense of her 
position, her large and lustrous eyes would beam 
with intelligent kindness as she hastened to repair 
the rudeness she confessed. The result was a firm, 
intelligent, and devoted adherence to the Protestant 
faith. Nor was it long till she made an open avow- 
al of her attachment to it. She chose as her time 
for doing so the accession of Charles IX. to the 
French throne. Her husband's weak submission 
to the Guises and the almost fatal peril in which he 


had involved his brother Conde and himself during 
the short reign of Francis II., had already taught 
her to act without him, and prepared her even to 
act against him. She did not consult him when 
she openly joined the communion of the Reformed, 
but she acted with the consent and on the advice 
of her own Council. Seduced by the wiles of Cath- 
erine de Medicis and the Triumvirate to desert the 
Huguenots, Antoine first desired her, and then com- 
manded her, to cease attending the services of the 
Calvinist ministers, telling her of the lalse but flat- 
tering hopes that had been held out to them should 
they conform to the Roman Catholic worship. 
Jeanne resolutely refused, telling her husband that 
it was not her purpose to barter her immortal soul 
for territorial aggrandizement, and that she would 
not be present at the Mass or any ceremony what- 
ever of the Romish Church. Exasperated by her 
pertinacity, Antoine at last intimated to her that it 
was his intention to sue for a divorce. She knew 
already of his infidelity, but she was not prepared 
for a proposal so coarsely made. For a moment 
she was silent tears filled her eyes but indigna- 
tion soon dried up those tears, and now Antoine 
had to listen while with terrible distinctness she 
pictured to him all the humiliations to which he 
had been doomed, and -.11 the treachery he had 
been drawn into, and all the arts that he had been 
the dupe of, and all the meanness he had committed, 
and all the vileness of that pit of political degrada- 


tion into which he was doomed to fall. " And as 
to that divorce with which I have been threatened, 
Monseigneur, though my fate does not move you, 
at least have mercy on your children. Know you 
not that to repudiate in this way the mother is to 
brand the children as bastards ? " The poor craven 
husband had no answer to all this to make, but to 
shrink away and go and report to those who sent 
him the failure of the attempt. Antoine was not 
likely to succeed where Catherine de Medicis. her- 
self failed. Once in her most honeyed accents she 
tried to win Jeanne over to the same temporizing 
policy that she was at the time herself pursuing. 
The Queen of Navarre, after listening to the dis- 
course, inquired what step in her conscience her 
Majesty would advise her to take. Catherine sug- 
gested that to preserve her kingdom for her son 
she should reconcile herself with Rome. " Madame," 
exclaimed Jeanne, with a passionate earnestness, 
"if I at this very moment held my son and all the 
kingdoms of the world together, I would hurl them 
to the bottom of the sea rather than peril the salva- 
tion of my soul ; " a reply that sounded about as 
unmeaning and extravagant in Catherine's ear as 
her proposal had sounded dishonorable and soul- 
endanfferinsr to that of Jeanne. No two women 
could be more unlike, and when we think how often 
all the one's fair speech and wily policy was dis- 
sected and exposed by the clear-cutting, deep-cut- 
ting weapon of the other's sharp and honest indig- 


nation, can we wonder that Catherine hated Jeanne 
with a hatred that followed her, if indeed it did not 
send her, to the grave ! 

Antoine of Navarre died at the siege of Rouen 
in 1562. The first use that the Queen made of the 
increased measure of freedom she thus acquired 
was to publish an edict establishing the Protestant 
and interdicting the exercise of the Roman Catholic 
worship in Beam. So bold an act by so weak a 
sovereign by one whose political position was so 
perilous and insecure drew down upon her the in- 
stant and severe displeasure of the Pope. The Car- 
dinal d'Armagnac was despatched from Trent to 
resume his Legatine functions in the south of France ; 
one of his first acts in that capacity being to address 
a monitory letter, couched in no ambiguous terms, 
to the Queen of Navarre. Her answer is one of the 
boldest that ever came from royal pen. Among 
other not less tart and pungent things, she says, " I 
clearly perceive, my cousin, that you have been de- 
ceived as to the condition of my subjects generally. 
They all, without a single exception, have tendered 
me obedience in religious matters, and continue 
daily to pay me the same deference, which you will 
own differs materially from your assertion of their 
menaced rebellion. I do nothing by compulsion. I 
condemn no one to death or to imprisonment, which 
penalties are the nerves and sinews of a system of 
terror. ... I blush for you, and feel ashamed when 
you falsely Btate that so many atrocities have been 


perpetrated by those of our religion. Purge the 
earth first from the blood of so many just men shed 
by you and yours. Pull that mote from your own 
eye, and then you shall see to cast the beam out of 
thy neighbor's. ... As to what you remark re- 
specting the books of the ancient Fathers, I hear 
them constantly quoted by our ministers, and ap- 
prove them. Nevertheless, I own that I am not so 
learned as I ought to be in this matter, but neither 
do I believe that you are more competent than my- 
self, having observed that you have applied your- 
self more to the study of politics than to that of di- 
vinity. . . . Tou request me not to think it strange, 
nor to take in bad part what you have written. 
Strange I do not deem your words, considering of 
what order you are ; but as to taking them in bad 
part, that I do as much as is possible in this world. 
You excuse yourself, and allege your authority over 
these countries as the Pope's Legate. I receive 
here no Legate at the price which it has cost 
France. I acknowledge over me in Beam God 
only, to whom I shall render account of the people 
He has committed to my care. As in no point I 
have deviated from the faith of Go.l's Holy Catho- 
lic Church, nor quitted her fold, I bid you keep 
your tears to deplore your own errors, to the which 
act of charity I will add my own, putting up at the 
same time the most earnest prayer that ever left 
my lips, that you may be restored to the true fold, 
and become a faithful shepherd instead of a hire- 


ling. I must entreat that you will use other lan- 
guage when next you would have me believe that 
you address me, impelled, as you affirm, by motives 
of respect ; aud likewise I desire that your useless 
letter may be the last of its kind." Himdreds of 
copies of the Cardinal's letter and of the Queen's 
reply were printed and circulated through the coun- 
try. The Pope himself arose to avenge the insult 
put upon his representative. In October 1563 a 
Bull was issued by him, in which the Queen of Xa- 
varre was cited to appear before the Holy Tribunal 
of the Inquisition at Rome, to clear herself from the 
stain of heresy, failing which she was declared ex- 
communicate and accursed, her kingdom given to 
the first despoiler, or " to them on whom his Holi- 
ness or his successors might please to bestow it." 
The mark was in this instance overshot Such re- 
vival of the intolerant pretensions of Pope Gregory 
VII. was what no monarch of the sixteenth century 
was ready to allow. Jeanne appealed against the 
Pope to the French Court. The Queen Regent 
warmly espoused her side, and despatched a special 
ambassador to Rome. " We have given," she said 
in her letter of instructions to him, " the said Sieur 
d'Oysel charge to make his Holiness understand 
that we don't acknowledge his authority and juris- 
diction over those who bear the title of King or 
Queen, and that it is not for him to give their king- 
doms and territories to any conqueror whatever." 
The Pope had to give way, and the Bull was ex- 


punged from the ecclesiastical ordinances of the 

And now that arch-enemy of Protestantism and 
of liberty, Philip II. of Spain, who a few months 
after Antoine's death had offered his son's hand to 
the widowed Queen, and had seen his offer set 
aside, employed his own peculiar weapons. A con- 
spiracy was organized, the object of which was to 
seize Jeanne and her children, carry them oft' to 
Spain, have her tried and condemned before the 
Holy Inquisition, and them disposed of afterwards 
according to Philip's own royal pleasure. Lower 
Navarre was to be seized and occupied by Spanish 
troops ; while, to conciliate the King of France, he 
was to be invited to annex Beam to the French 
monarchy. With consummate skill every contin- 
gency was provided for. The scheme was on the 
very eve of execution, when Dimanche, one of the 
agents engaged to execute during a serious illness 
at Madrid revealed the plot in confidence to a valet 
of the Spanish Queen, Elisabeth of France. Elisa- 
beth, struck with consternation at the impending 
fate of her relative, took instant but secret means 
of apprising her of her peril. The information 
came just in time. The Queen fled to her strong 
castle of Navarreins, and the designs of the conspir- 
ators were defeated. 

It was during her abode in this fortress-palace 
of Navarreins that Jeanne resumed those severe 
studies to which, in the course of a former residence 


there, she had devoted herself. With a view to the 
reformation and codification of all the existing laws 
of Beam, she now set herself to the examination of 
the general principles of jurisprudence, and of 
the best existing specimens of ancient and modern 
legislation. After seven gears' labor bestowed on 
it, and as the fruit mainl y of the Queen's own work, 
a code of laws was sanctioned and published by 
the States of Beam in 1571, which, without mod- 
ification, was in force throughout the domains of 
the house of D'Albret till after the great Revolu- 
tion. This code remains as the abiding monument 
of the Queen of Navarre's capacity as a legislator 
and governor. 

By its ordinances all ecclesiastical property alien- 
ated from the Church of Rome was attached to the 
revenues of the Crown. No part of it, however, 
was appropriated to the ordinary purposes of gov- 
ernment. One-third was devoted to educational 
purposes, one-third to the support of the poor, one- 
third to the support of the Protestant Church. 
The monasteries were, for the most part, changed 
into schools. The college for higher instruction 
established originally at Lescar was transferred to 
Orthez, and bv liberal allowances distinguished 
professors were attracted to it. Fifty theological 
students were maintained here out of the public 
funds for the term of ten years. Under Jeanne's 
own personal direction the Bible was translated 
into the Bearnois and the Gascon dialects, and the 


greatest efforts were made by her to provide a 
ministry that could preach to the inhabitants of 
each of the provinces in their vernacular tongue. 

Many of the fiscal ordinances of Jeanne's code 
especially some of its sumptuary regulations 
exhibit that unwise interference with the personal 
liberty of the subject which characterized all the 
legislation of the period. But when we discover 
that by this code the equality of all subjects in the 
eye of the law was affirmed and enforced ; that the 
venality of all public offices was abolished ; that a 
system of instruction offering the benefits of edu- 
cation to all, and providing especially for the edu- 
cation of the poor, was organized ; that mendicity 
was proscribed and all poor widows and orphans 
provided for ; that the punishment of death was 
restricted to the single crime of murder ; that all 
burial of the dead within churches or near inhabit- 
ed places was forbidden, when these and other 
regulations of a like kind meet our eye, we rise 
from our review of this code with the conviction 
that Jeanne d'Albret was the wisest and most en- 
lightened sovereign of her age, and that she needed 
only to have had a wider and more conspicuous 
theatre to act in to have had her name as broadly 
and as deeply engraved on the page of history as 
either of her two great contemporaries Elizabeth 
of England and Catherine de Medicis of France. 1 

1 " La France Protestante," par M.M. Haag, vol. i. pp 
31-59. This important work is a mine of information on the 
subject of French Protestantism. 


In reviewing her legislative and administrative 
measures, perhaps the most interesting thing is to 
notice the exact stage to which the idea of religious 
toleration was carried out in them. The liberty of 
individual belief was freely and fully granted. Xo 
trial on the charge of heterodoxy, no execution for 
heresy, was permitted. And here is the great and 
striking contrast between this little Protestant king- 
dom of Beam and all the great Roman Catholic 
kingdoms by which it was surrounded. This asser- 
tion and protection of the liberty of the individual 
conscience was one of the chief services that the 
Reformation rendered to modern Europe. The 
public exercise, however, of the Roman Catholic 
religion was interdicted in Beam. At first Jeanne 
showed herself willing to tolerate it. In some parts 
of her dominions where division of opinion existed 
she directed that the churches should be used both 
by Catholics and Protestants. On the ground, how- 
ever, of the rebellion raised by the priesthood, 
Catholicism was at last interdicted (1569). !Not 
only was all exercise of the Roman Catholic worship 
suppressed, but all were bound under certain penal- 
ties to attend the Calvinistic services, any one ab- 
senting himself more than once from the Commun- 
ion without good and reasonable excuse being liable 
to banishment. At that period the almost univer- 
sal conception was that the King or the State was 
responsible, not indeed for what was thought or be- 
lieved, but for all that outwardly was done in the 


way of religious worship. In Protestant eyes the 
Mass was an act of idolatrous worship ; and to per- 
mit its celebration was to countenance idolatry, 
a countenance, it was thought, that no true Chris- 
tian, no true Protestant prince could give. It is to 
an after age, and not to that of the Reformers, that 
we owe our emancipation from such a conception 
of the duty and the prerogative of the State, that 
we owe the establishment of the great principle 
that neither with the mode of worship nor with 
the religious faith of its subjects has the State any 
right authoritatively or dictatorially or punitively 
to interfere. 

In 1565 Catherine and her son Charles IX. made 
a progress through France, and had their memorable 
interview with Queen Elisabeth and some of the 
most distinguished Spanish courtiers at Bayonne. 
The young Prince of Beam, then in his twelfth year, 
accompanied the French Court. His singular 
sprightliness made him a great favorite with the 
Queen-mother. Imagining that he was wholly giv- 
en up to boyish sports, Catherine admitted him to 
many of those private conferences which she held 
with the Duke of Alva, and other members of the 
Spanish Cabinet. In one of these Henry overheard 
the Duke recommend that the leading Huguenots 
should be cut off as a first step towards the entire 
extirpation of heresy, " For, Madame," said the 
Duke, " the head of one salmon is worth that of a 
hundred frogs." The saying stuck fast in the 


memory of the Prince, who repeated it soon after 
to Calignon, one of his mother's privy councillors, 
who was in attendance on him. Calignon de- 
spatched a messenger to Pan, conveying it in cipher 
to his Queen, who from that time, it is said, had 
a dark presentiment of the Massacre of St. Bar- 

After a few years' residence at the French Court, 
the young Prince of Beam was, at the age of thir- 
teen, restored to the guardianship of his mother. 
She found him a proficient in all manly exercises. 
He rode well, fenced well, wrestled well; had all 
the gallant bearing of the young cavalier. His taste 
for poetry had been cultivated, and the chivalrous 
lays of France and Spain were his especial delight. 
His mother set him now to the harder task of mas- 
tering the Greek and Latin tongues ; and instead 
of books of fiction gave him volumes of history, 
politics, and religion to study. She acted frequently 
herself as his preceptor. With her son's quick in- 
telligence and power of rapid acquisition she must 
have been more than pleased, but many a strange 
misgiving must have shadowed her hopes as she 
noticed how averse he was to any exercise requir- 
ing steady, continuous, serious thought, and how 
fond he was of pleasure of all kinds and at all 
costs; the mercurial Gascon spirit that was in him 
already effervescing in more ways than one. We 
get glimpses of him about this time in two letters 
written by one of the magistrates of Bordeaux. 


"We have here," says the writer, ''the young 
Prince of Beam. One can't help acknowledging 
that he is a beautiful creature. At the age of thir- 
teen he displays all the qualities of a person of 
eighteen or nineteen. He is agreeable, he is civil, 
he is obliging. He insinuates himself into all hearts 
with inconceivable skill. I shall hate the new re- 
ligion all my life for having carried him off from 
us." A year or two later the writer says, "We 
have the pleasantest carnival in the world. The 
Prince of Beam has besought our ladies to mask 
and give balls by turns. He loves play and good 
living. When money fails him, he has skill enough 
to hnd more, and that in a manner quite new and 
obliging towards others. He sends to those whom 
he believes to be his friends a promise, written and 
signed by himself, begging them to return to him 
either the note or the sum which the promise bears. 
You may judge whether there is any house where 
he is refused. People regard it as a great honor to 
have one of these billets from the Prince, and 
every one does it with joy, for there are two astrol- 
ogers here who declare that either their art is false, 
or that the Prince will some day be one of the 
greatest kings of Europe." 

More serious matters were soon to occupy this 
gay young Prince. The Duke of Guise died on 
the 24th February 1563, six days after he received 
his wound. So prompt was the Queen-Regent in 
carrying out the advice which he had given her, 


that on the 12th of the following month the basis 
of a peace was fixed upon in a conference between 
the Prince of Conde and the Constable. Before 
formally concluding it, Conde consulted his co-re- 
ligionists. He had no difficulty with the Hugue- 
not officers and gentlemen, who were willing that 
some sacrifice should be made for peace. It was 
otherwise with the ministers. The question 
whether it would be right or lawful to lay down 
arms on any terms less favorable than those of the 
Edict of January, was submitted to an assembly of 
seventy-two ministers assembled at Orleans. They 
declared energetically that peace purchased on less 
favorable terms would be treason against God, and 
they insisted that it should form one of the terms 
of the settlement that all atheists, libertines, ana- 
baptists, and disciples of Servetus," should be burnt 

Turning a deaf ear to such advisers, without 
waiting even to consult with Coligni, Conde signed 
a pacification on the 18th March, known under 
the title of the Edict of Amboise. By this edict 
the exercise of the Reformed religion was prohibit- 
ed in Paris, somewhat limited in the provinces, but 
it secured individual liberty. "Every one,'' said 
the Treaty, " shall be permitted to live at liberty 
in his own house, without search or molestation, 
and without being forced or constrained for con- 
science' sake."' 

The peace established thus lasted for four years. 


Not that the Huguenots enjoyed during these 
years any thing like security or repose. The re- 
peated abridgment even of those narrow liberties 
conferred by the Edict of Amboise, and the fre- 
quent outbreaks of popular hatred in which num- 
bers of them perished, kept them in perpetual 
alarm. Still more alarming was the meeting at 
Bayonne in the summer of 1565. The Pope had 
long sought to bring about a personal interview be- 
tween Catherine de Medicis and Philip of Spain, 
with a view to concert measures for the suppres- 
sion of Protestantism. Taking advantage of a roy- 
al progress that Catherine was then making with 
her son the King through France, it was arranged 
that the two Courts should meet in the border 
town of Bayonne. Philip himself did not come, 
but sent as his representative his Queen and the 
Duke of Alva. Amid the Court festivities which 
took place, it was known that there had been many 
secret meetings between Alva, Catherine, and 
Charles. The darkest suspicions as to their ob- 
jects and results spread over France. It was gen- 
erally believed falsely, as from Alva's letters it 
now appears that a simultaneous extermination 
of all heretics in the French and Spanish domin- 
ions had been agreed upon. 

To anticipate this stroke, Coligni proposed that 
the person of the King should be seized upon. The 
Court, but slenderly guarded, was then at M onceax. 
The project had almost succeeded. Some time, 


however, was lost. The Court got warning and fled 
to Meaux. Six thousand Swiss arrived, and by a 
rapid march carried the King to Paris. After such 
a failure, nothing was left to the Huguenots but the 
chances of a second civil war. Conde entered boldly 
on the campaign. Though he had with him but 
1500 horse and 1200 infantry, he marched to Paris, 
and offered battle to the royal troops beneath its 
walls. The Constable, who had 18,000 men at his 
command, accepted the challenge, and on the 10th 
of November 1567, the battle of St. Denis was 
fought. The Huguenots displayed unexampled 
bravery. Ah ! " said the Ambassador of the Sul- 
tan, who was looking on, " had my master but 6000 
men like these, all Asia would be at his feet." 
Neither party could well claim the victory, as both 
retired from the field. The royal army had to 
mourn the loss that day of its aged and gallant com- 
mander the Constable. Conde renewed next day 
the challenge, which was not accepted. 

The winter months were spent by the Hugue- 
nots in effecting a junction with some German aux- 
iliaries, and in the spring they appeared in such 
force upon the field that, on the 23d March 1568, 
the Peace of Longjumeau was ratified, which re-es- 
tablished, free from all modifications and restrictions, 
the Edict of Amboise. It was evident from the 
first that this treaty was not intended to be kept ; 
that it had been entered into by the Government 
solely to gain tune, and to scatter the ranks of the 


Huguenots. Coligni sought Conde at his chateau 
of Noyers in Burgundy. He had scarcely arrived 
when secret intelligence was given them of a plot 
upon their lives. They had barely time to fly, 
making many a singular escape by the way, and 
reaching Rochelle, which from this time became 
the head-quarters of the Huguenots, on the 15th 
September 1568. 

During the first two religious wars, marked re- 
spectively by the battles of Dreux and of St. Denis, 
the seat of war was so remote from her dominions 
that the Queen of Navarre had satisfied herself 
with opening her country as an asylum for those 
Huguenots driven thither out of the southern coun- 
ties of France. But when she heard that Conde 
and Coligni, only barely escaping the attempt to 
seize them at Noyers, were on their way to Ro- 
chelle, to raise there once more the Protestant ban- 
ner, convinced that the French Court meditated 
nothing short of the extermination of the Hugue- 
nots, she determined openly to cast in her lot with 
her co-religionists, and to give them all the help 
she could. Dexterously deceiving Montluc, who 
had received instructions to watch her movements, 
and seize upon her person if she showed any in- 
tention of leaving her own dominions, after a 
flight as precipitous and almost as perilous as that 
of Conde and Coligni, she reached Rochelle on 
the 29th September, ten days after their arrival. 
This town, for nearly a century the citadel of Pro- 


testantism in France, having by its own unaided 
power freed itself from the English dominion, had 
had extraordinary municipal privileges bestowed on 
it in return among others, that of an entirely in- 
dependent jurisdiction, both civil and military. 
Like so many of the great commercial marts of 
Europe, in which the spirit of freedom was cher- 
ished, it had early welcomed the teaching of the Re- 
formers, and at the time now before us nearly the 
whole of its inhabitants were Huguenots. Know- 
ing how zealous the Eochellese were for their in- 
dependence, Conde, in the first instance, took his 
wife and family into a neighboring town, and en- 
tering the city alone, and in the disguise of a sailor, 
suddenly presented himself in the midst of the 
Council, and cast himself and the cause he repre- 
sented on their sympathy and aid. The frankness 
and confidence shown by one who came thus with- 
out a single follower won at once all hearts. The 
citizens vowed to assist him by every means in 
their power, and he in his turn vowed never to 
sheathe the sword till liberty of conscience should 
be achieved. When, a few days later, the approach 
of the Queen of Kavarre and her son was an- 
nounced, all were ready to give them an enthusias- 
tic greeting. At the Hotel de Ville the Mayor 
and other city authorities welcomed the Queen in 
an elaborate address. Her answer, for she was em- 
inently eloquent, made the hall of audience re-echo 
with applause. Then the Mayor turned to the 


young Prince, addressing him in a like style. 
" Gentlemen of the city," said young Henry in re- 
ply, " I have not studied enough to be able to 
speak as you do, but I assure you that if I don't 
speak so well I will act better, for I know better 
how to act than to speak." Next day an impor- 
tant assemblage was summoned to deliberate- as to 
the future conduct of the war. The Prince of 
Conde rose and tendered his resignation as com- 
mander-in-chief, offering to serve under the Prince 
of Beam, to whom, as the first prince of the blood, 
the command by right of birth belonged. " No, 
Messeigneurs," said the Queen of Navarre, prompt- 
ly rising to decline the offer, " I and my son are 
here to promote the success of this great enter- 
prise, or to share in its disaster. We will joyfully 
unite beneath the standard of Conde. The cause 
of God is dearer to me than my son. My son and 
I would rather return and abandon our share in this 
great design than permit a resignation so perni- 
cious." In vain the leading councillors remon- 
strated in vain Conde assured the Queen that he 
would be all to Henry that Tavanues and Biron 
were to his young cousin Henry of Anjou, who 
was to lead the forces of the Royalists. Conde 
was proclaimed general-in-chief. " My son," said 
Jeanne then to Henry before the assembly, " poli- 
cy, gratitude, necessity combined to render it expe- 
dient that you should resign the command to your 
uncle. That privilege in truth belonged to you in 


virtue of jour birth, but it is a privilege you could 
not safely claim without exposing your party to 
ruin a ruin that would entail your own. You 
have ceased to be a child you have become a 
man. Europe is at this moment watching your 
actions. Go then, and under Conde learn to obey, 
that it may be yours some day in your turn to 

The Court had thrown off all disguise. About 
the very time that the Queen of Xavarre entered 
Hochelle a royal edict appeared, prohibiting, under 
pain of death, the exercise of any other than the 
Roman Catholic religion in France, imposing upon 
all the observance of its rites and ceremonies ; and 
banishing from the realm all preachers of the doc- 
trine of Calvin, fifteen days only being allowed 
them to quit the kingdom. It was by the sword 
that this stern edict was to be enforced or rescinded. 
Two powerful armies of nearly equal strength mus- 
tered speedily. One was nominally under the 
command of the Duke of Anjou, but really led by 
Tavannes, Biron, Brissac, and the young Duke of 
Guise, the last burning to emulate the military 
glory of his father ; the other under the command 
of Conde and Coligni. The two armies were close 
upon one another ; their generals desired to bring 
them into action ; they were more than once actu- 
ally in each other's presence, but the unprecedented 
inclemency of the weather prevented an engage- 
ment, and at last, without coming into collision, 


both had to retire to winter quarters. The delay 
was fatal to the Huguenots. They were still in 
winter quarters, a large part of their force, many 
of them being volunteers, still in their own homes, 
scattered over the country, when the intelligence 
arrived that, largely reinforced and fully organized, 
the Royal army was on its march. Not in a con- 
dition to fight upon any thing like equal terms, 
Conde and Coligni resolved to retire behind the 
Charente, breaking down the bridges behind them. 
But their object was frustrated, partly by the neg- 
ligence and insubordination of their own troops, 
and partly by the superior skill of the Royalist 
generals. On the 13th March 1569, with an army 
inferior in numbers, and so scattered that it could 
not all be brought at once into action, Conde was 
forced to halt near Jarnac, and face the Royal 
troops. For some days before a cloud had been 
seen to rest upon the fine spirits of the Prince. 
His arm was in a scarf as he entered the battle-field, 
and just as he took his helmet to lead his own di- 
vision to the charge, his leg was broken by the kick 
of a horse in so frightful a way that the bone ob- 
truded through the boot. But his gallant soldier- 
spirit nothing could subdue. " Gentlemen of 
France," he cried, " the hour so long desired has 
come. Forward then ! sweet is the combat foi 
Christ and for one's country." With these words, 
at the head of his little troop he charged the ene- 
my. Overpowered by numbers, thrown from hi& 


horse, resting on one knee, he fought on with des- 
perate resolution. " Around him," says Agrippa 
d'Aubiorne, " was the bitterest and most obstinate 
contest that ever was seen, it was thought, during 
the civil wars. One old man, La Vergne, fell with 
fifteen of his descendants in a heap around him ; 
but what could 250 gentlemen do, opposed to 2000 
in front, with 2500 Belter on the right and 800 
lances on the left, but die ? as they did, two-thirds 
of them upon the spot." Seeing at last how need- 
less it was to prolong such slaughter, Conde raised 
his visor, and calling to a Roman Catholic gentle- 
man (D'Argence), gave his name, presented his 
sword, and surrendered himself as prisoner. D'Ar- 
gence treated him with all due respect and tender- 
ness, had him borne to a neighboring thicket, and 
laid on the grass with his back against a tree. A 
number of Royalist officers surrounded him, with 
whom Conde was speaking with his usual courtesy, 
when Montesquiou, captain of the Swiss Guard" of 
the Duke of Anjou, galloped up to the spot, and 
hearing who the prisoner was, deliberately levelled 
his pistol at him and shot him through the head. 
The Duke passed no censure on his officer, and ex- 
pressed no regret at his deed. The grossest indig- 
nities were afterwards, by his orders, heaped upon 
the dead body of the slain. 

The defeat of Jarnac, and still more the death 
of Conde, threw the Huguenot army into despair. 
It had suffered comparatively little loss, for a large 


part of the infantry had not been in action, and had 
retired in almost unbroken order from the field. At 
Cognac, on the day after the battle, Coligni, D'An- 
delot, La Rochefoucauld, Teligni, Montgomery, and 
the other Huguenot chiefs, found themselves still 
at the head of no inconsiderable force ; but all heart 
and hope had gone out of the soldiery, and with the 
spirit of despair had come the spirit of suspicion, 
detraction, insubordination. The Admiral espe- 
cially was blamed blamed falsely for neglect in 
leaving a bridge undefended accused even of cow- 
ardice in retreating so early from the fight. The 
utter dissolution of the Army seemed at hand. The 
Admiral sent a messenger to the Queen of Navarre 
at Rochelle, entreating her to come to the camp. 
She was already on her way. On arrival, and after 
a short consultation with the Admiral, the army 
was drawn up to receive her. She rode along the 
ranks her son Henry on one side, the son of the 
deceased Conde on the other. Cheer's rose from the 
ranks as they passed along. They formed around 
her as she prepared to address them. " Children 
of God and of France," she said, " Cond6 is no more ; 
that heroic prince, whom even his enemies were 
constrained to honor, has sacrificed his life for the 
noblest of causes. He is dead. A sacrilegious 
hand has severed the thread of life. His enemies 
have deprived him of being by a deed of cowardly 
perfidy. What say I ? have they not even added 
foul insult to his cold remains ? Oh, how by this 


base outrage have they not augmented his renown, 
and defiled forever the laurels gathered from the 
fatal field of Jarnac ! Soldiers, you weep but does 
the memory of Conde demand nothing more than 
tears ? Will you be satisfied with fruitless regrets ? 
No ! let us unite and summon back our courage to 
defend a cause which can never perish. Does de- 
spair overpower you ? despair, that shamefid fail- 
ing of weak natures, can it be known to you, noble 
warriors and Christian men? TThen /still hope, 
is it for you to fear ? Because Conde is dead, is all 
therefore lost ? No ! the God who placed the arms 
in his hands for our defence has raised up others 
worthy to succeed him. To these brave warriors I 
add my son. Make proof of his valor. Soldiers, 
I offer to you every thing I have to give, my 
dominions, my treasures, my life, and, what is dear- 
er to me than all, my children. I make here sol- 
emn oath before you all I swear to defend to my 
last sigh the holy cause which now unites us, which 
is that of honor and of truth ! " Heroic words, 
that carried with them a quickening power. The 
soldiers crowded round the Queen, and unanimously, 
as if by sudden impulse, hailed young Henry of Xa- 
varre as their future general. The Admiral and La 
Rochefoucauld were the first to swear fidelity to the 
Prince ; then came the inferior officers and the whole 
assembled soldiery, and it was thus that, in his fif- 
teenth year, the Prince of Beam was inaugurated 
as general-in-chief of the army of the Huguenots. 


All eyes were now directed to the celebrated 
march of the Due de Deux-Ponts with a division 
of German auxiliaries from the banks of the Rhine. 
Through a part of France whose inhabitants were 
hostile, all whose towns and the bridges of whose 
rivers were held by his enemies, surrounded all 
along by superior forces that hung upon his flank 
and rear, the Duke made good his way to the banks 
of the Loire, attacked La Charite, made himself 
master of the bridge there, across which and with- 
out loss he conveyed his troops. No sooner did 
the Admiral hear of his passage of the river than 
he set out to meet him. A junction of the two 
armies took place at St. Yrieix on the 23d June. 
Once more the Queen of Navarre hastened to the 
united camp to renew and re-ratify the articles of 
confederation between the Protestant Princes of 
Germany and the Huguenots of France. Before 
leaving Rochelle she got a gold medal struck with 
the heads of herself and her son upon the one side, 
and on the reverse the inscription Pax certa, 
victoria integra, mors honesta " a sure peace, an 
entire victory, an honorable death." Hung upon 
a chain <;f gold, the Queen threw one of these med- 
als round the neck of each distinguished chief at 
St. Yrieix, as he stooped to kiss her hand at the 
close of one of her receptions. Among the chiefs 
who thus presented himself was William of Orange, 
who, with his brother Louis of Nassau, on this oc- 
casion accompanied the German army ; and never 


surely by worthier hands was medal hung upon a 
nobler breast. 

The Duke of Anjou, who had approached St. 
Yrieix in the hope of preventing a junction of the 
two armies, retired to La Roche- Abeille. Here the 
Huguenots attacked and gained a slight advantage, 
the first occasion in which young Henry of Xavarre 
shared in the actual perils of the battle-field, giving 
proof, while he charged at the head of the line, of 
that brilliant courage which shone out so conspicu- 
ously in many an after field. Coligni was prepar- 
ing to follow up this partial success when the Roy- 
al army melted away before him. Its sagacious 
leaders calculated that a few months' want of pay, 
provisions, and of any well-defined object, would 
disorganize the Germans and exhaust the Hugue- 
nots, and that then the royal forces, refreshed and 
re-invigorated, would be prepared, under favorable 
auspices, to take the field. Acting on this counsel 
the Duke of Anjou disbanded his army, but appoint- 
ed a general rendezvous for the 1 Sth of August. The 
scheme was but too successful. The Huguenots, con- 
trary to the advice of Coligni, one of whose favor- 
ite maxims was that great towns were the sepulchres 
of great armies, resolved to lay siege to Poitiers, 
tempted by the hope of capturing the young Duke 
of Guise and his brother, to whom the defence of that 
place had been intrusted. The Duke however con- 
ducted the defence with such great skill and bravery 
that when, after many weeks' preparations, the gener- 


al assault was given, the assailants were beaten back. 
The Duke of Anjou at last appeared with a reliev- 
ing force, and the siege was raised. Conscious of 
his weakness, Coligni would have retired before the 
advancing enemy, but his counsel was rejected, and 
the fatal battle of Mon contour the most disastrous 
of all to the Huguenots was fought. His jaw- 
bone broken by a pistol-shot, his throat half-choked 
with blood, unable any longer to articulate the 
word of command, Coligni was forced to retire. 
The rout of his army was complete ; 5000 dead and 
wounded Huguenots were left upon the plain. The 
Prince of Beam took no part personally in this en- 
gagement. Anxious about his safety, as being so 
doubtful of the result, the Admiral had placed him 
in the rear, and given strict orders that he should 
not mingle in the fray. Henry shed tears of vexa- 
tion and impatience as he obeyed. He watched 
the battle eagerly from a rising ground, and it is 
said that he marked a crisis in it when, had the 
quick suggestion he made been acted on, it might 
have had a different result. 

At Kiort, after this great defeat, the wreck of 
the broken forces was gathered. Regret for the 
past, terror for the future, seized every heart ; noth- 
ing was spoken of but submission upon any terms. 
The Admiral found himself surrounded by the dis- 
contented and the despairing ; his power weakened, 
his merits forgotten, the defeat wholly attributed 
to his imprudence. Again Jeanne d'Albret has- 


tened to his side. "He was abandoned," says 
D'Aubigne, "by his officers, his nobles, and all, 
save by one woman who heroically advanced to hold 
out her hand to the afflicted, and to assist in retriev- 
ing the affairs of the confederates." Tears filled 
the old man's eyes as he grasped the hand so op- 
portunely held out to him. It was her own famil- 
iarity with suffering which made the Queen of 
Navarre so good a soother and supporter of others. 
The bygone summer months had been months to 
her of the most painful anxiety. 

Returning from Cognac to Rochelle, she kept 
the promise she had made to the assembled army. 
To furnish the needful funds for carrying on the 
war she had literally given all she had. She 
pawned at last the jewels of the Crown, depositing, 
among the rest, in the hands of our own Queen 
Elizabeth one of the most precious heirlooms of 
the house of D'Albret a necklace " set," it is de- 
scribed, " with eleven large table diamonds, one 
diamond being set clear as a pendant, the whole 
being valued at the sum of 160,000 crowns." 
"While straining thus every nerve, and making 
every sacrifice to sustain the cause, her own king- 
dom, in her absence, excited by French emissaries, 
broke out into revolt. A French army, under the 
command of Terride, entered and took possession 
of it. One fortress, that of Xavarreins, alone held 
out, and Terride's victorious army was already be- 
sieging it. A bitter grief rent the Queen's heart 


as she heard of towns and villages sacked and pil- 
laged ; her country suffering all the horrors of a 
foreign invasion and occupation ; her capital itself 
in the hands of the enemy. Idle grief however 
gave way to vigorous effort. A little Bearnese 
army, called the Army of the Yiscounts, from its 
being led by those Barons of her States who still 
stood faithful, lay encamped at Quercy, inefficient 
through discord among its leaders. Jeanne instant- 
ly despatched the Count de Montgomery to take 
command ; bestowing on him unlimited authority, 
civil as well as military. The task imposed was 
so difficult, and the means at his disposal for ac- 
complishing it so apparently inadequate, that one 
can well imagine that when he took his oath of al- 
legiance to the Queen, and swore either to win 
back her dominions or perish in the service, the 
latter seemed to Montgomery by much his likelier 
fate. But fortune smiled on the skilful soldier who 
threw himself into so hazardous an enterprise with 
all the dash of a chivalrous devotion. He left Ro- 
chelle in the end of June, escorted by 200 horse. 
In less than six weeks he traversed 150 leagues of 
country, gathering troops together in the face of no 
fewer than five hostile armies, all on the watch to 
intercept him. With the troops collected thus he 
joined the Army of the Viscounts, entered Beam, 
and within fourteen days the siege of Navarreins 
was raised the royal army beaten in a pitched 
battle, Terride, its general, and all the rebel lords 


taken prisoners, the whole Principality reconquered, 
and the standard of Navarre once more planted on 
the castle of Pan. 

This brilliant success set Montgomery free to 
join the Admiral afterwards in the boldest and 
most successful of all his military exploits. After the 
disheartening defeat at Moncontour, the Huguenot 
chiefs generally were in favor of acting for a time 
solely on the defensive, confining themselves to those 
provinces in which they had the greatest strength. 
Coligni, on the other hand, determined to force a 
peace by demanding it before the walls of Paris. 
Keeping what troops he could collect around him, 
he marched into the remotest southern counties, 
up into the valleys of the Pyrenees, where he 
and they were as far out of sight as they 
well could be, little thought of and less feared 
by the pleasure-loving Court of St. Germain. 
But soon as spring came he turned his steps 
northward, passed rapidly through Montpellier, 
Nismes, the Yivarrais, along the banks of the Phone, 
over the mountain defiles of the Cevennes, by roads 
impassable for artillery, covered with the snows of 
winter ; descending at last into Burgundy, after a 
march of 400 leagues. About 6000 men perished 
in the course of the march : of 100 Englishmen un- 
der Chapman, who had joined Coligni at Rochelle, 
only twelve survived. But, amid all the exposure 
and fatigues, there was one youth whose strength 
never failed, and whose spirits never flagged ; whose 


gay and ever buoyant activity was of infinite ser- 
vice in keeping up the spirits of the troops the 
young Prince Henry of Navarre. The Court was 
thunderstruck when it heard that a Huguenot 
army was in the heart of the country, approaching 
the Loire. The Marshal de Cosse, at the head of 
12,500 men, was despatched to arrest its progress. 
Coligni had less than 7000 men under him, but, 
taking up his position on the slope of a declivity at 
Arnay-le-Duc, he resolved to await the attack of the 
enemy. Counting on an easy victory, Cosse led 
his soldiers to the assault. Again and again his 
charges were impetuously and successfully repelled. 
A recent illness kept Coligni from engaging per- 
sonally in the fight, but the Huguenots had a fresh 
and brilliant leader in the Prince of Beam. " My 
first exploit in arms," said Henry many years after- 
wards to the historian Matthieu, " was at Arnay-le- 
Duc, where the question was whether to fight or 
to retire. I had no retreat within forty miles, and 
if I fought I ran the risk of being taken or slain, 
for I had no cannon, and the King's forces had. A 
gentleman was killed by one of their balls not ten 
paces from me. I decided to fight, and, commend- 
ing the success to God, it pleased Him to make the 
day favorable and fortunate." Though it was but a 
partial victory, it accomplished the design of the Ad- 
miral. This happened in the end of June, and on 
the 8th of August the Peace of St. Germain-en -Lave 
was signed, and France had two full years of quiet. 


These years were divided by Jeanne d' Albret be- 
tween the cares of her domestic government and the 
agitations of that negotiation which embittered her 
latter days. The proposal for the marriage of her son 
Henry with Marguerite of Yalois, the sister of 
Cliarles IX., was one to which, from the beginning, 
she had the strongest aversion. She could not at 
first believe in the sincerity of the French Court in 
making such a proposal. When all ground for disbe- 
lieving in that sincerity was removed, she cherished 
the darkest surmises as to the real and final ends 
and objects of the proposers. When these suspicions 
were overruled, and she was forced, by the advice 
of her own Council and almost the entire body of 
the Huguenot leaders, to entertain the project, it 
was with the utmost difficulty that she was dragged 
from her own capital to go and adjust the mar- 
riage articles with Queen Catherine at Blois. 
It was arranged that the two Queen-mothers should 
settle all between themselves. The very first con- 
ference, however, revealed the irreconcilable differ- 
ence of their ideas. The Queen of Xavarre felt 
hurt and aggrieved at its being laid down at once, 
as a necessary preliminary to all minor stipulations, 
that after the marriage her son and his wife should 
reside at the French Court ; that Marguerite, where- 
ever she was, should have the free exercise of her 
religion, but that Henry, while in France, should 
be debarred the public exercise of his. On her 
part, Jeanne as peremptorily insisted that after the 


marriage the Prince and his consort should reside at 
Pau, and that the Mass should not he celebrated 
there. Her letters to her son tell us how bitterly 
Jeanne felt the annoyance to which she was ex- 
posed. " I assure you, my son,'' she says (Blois, 21st 
February), " that I am in great trouble ; for they 
taunt me without mercy, and I have need of all the 
patience in the world. I must inform you that 
Madame Marguerite has given me every honor 
and welcome in her power to bestow. She has 
frankly owned to me the agreeable idea she has 
formed of you. With her beauty and wit she exer- 
cises great influence with the Queen-mother, the 
King, and his younger brothers. Should she em- 
brace our faith, I may say it will be the most for- 
tunate event in the world ; not only for our house, 
but for the entire realm of France. If she, however, 
remain obstinate, it is to be feared that this mar- 
riage will prove the ruin of our souls and of our 
country, and the destruction of all the Reformed 
Churches of France. Therefore, my son, if ever 
you had need to supplicate the Almighty, it is now 
in this our extremity." On the 8th March she 
writes u I am in traA r ail and in such extremity of 
suffering that had I not forseen all that has happen- 
ed I must have succumbed beneath the torrent. I 
am compelled to negotiate quite contrary to my ex- 
pectations and to their past promises. I have no 
longer liberty to speak even to Madame, but only to 
the Queen-mother. I have remonstrated with the 


Queen upon three separate occasions, but she ridi- 
cules me, and afterwards repeats to every one just 
the very contrary to what I said. Therefore, when 
many of my friends blame me, I know not well how 
to contradict the Queen's words, for when I ven- 
ture to say to her Majesty, 'Madame, it is reported 
that I have said such and such a thing to you,' 
although it was she herself who spread the state- 
ment she denies the thing flatly, laughing in my 
face, and treating me in such shameful fashion that 
you may believe my patience surpasses that of 
Griselda herself. As for Madame, she is beautiful 
and graceful, but she has been educated in the midst 
of the most vicious and corrupt Court that can be 
imagined. I see no one here exempt from its evil 
influences. Even cousin (Marie de Cleves) is so 
greatly altered that she exhibits no signs of re- 
ligion. Mv sister the Princess sets even a worse ex- 
ample. The bearer of this letter will tell you what 
license the King already indulges in. I would 
not for the world that you should abide here. For 
these reasons I desire to see you married, that you 
and your wife may be withdrawn from this corrupt 
society ; for though I believed the license great, it 
surpasses my anticipations." 

The two Queen-mothers could make nothing of 
the matter. It was referred next to four Commis- 
sioners on either side. These also failed. Indig- 
nant at the delay, the King broke in, declaring, in 
one of his impulsive moods, that it was his royal 


will and pleasure that the marriage should take 
place without any conditions whatever. But now 
a new difficulty arose. The pope refused to grant 
a dispensation for the marriage. Jeanne hailed 
the refusal as an obstacle thrown by Providence in 
the way, and expressed her intention of retiring 
from Blois. " No, no, my aunt," said the choleric 
King, " I honor you more than the Pope, and I love 
my sister more than I fear his Holiness. I am not 
a Huguenot, but neither am I a fool. If M. le 
Pape demeans himself too absurdly in this affair, I 
promise you I will take Margot by the hand, and 
lead her to be married in full preche." A Papal 
dispensation was at last procured ; the general belief 
being that it was forged for the occasion. All im- 
pediments at last removed, the Queen of Navarre 
left Blois for Paris, to make the many needful pur- 
chases in preparation for the approaching ceremo- 
nial. It was in the midst of these occupations that 
the fatal malady seized her which in five days car- 
ried her to the grave. She early intimated her 
conviction she should not survive. But death was 
to her neither unexpected nor unwelcome. " Ought 
you to weep for me," she said to her weeping at- 
tendants, " when at length God takes pity on me, 
and calls me to the enjoyment of that blessed ex- 
istence for the which I have unceasingly prayed ? " 
One regret alone in quitting life was expressed by 
her, that felt in leaving her children at such an 
age, exposed to so many dangers. Her sufferings 


were intense ; her patience and confidence in God 
unbroken. " My pains," she said, " are indeed 
most grievous, but I know that He doeth nothing 
but what is right and good." The Queen-mother 
came to visit her. Not a word about the approach- 
ing nuptials was spoken ; indeed, throughout her 
illness Jeanne never once alluded to the event. 
Sunday the 8th June was her last day in life. She , 
summoned two notaries to her bed-side, and de- 
clared to them her last instructions. " Tell my 
son," she said, " that I desire him, as the last ex- 
pression of my heart, to persevere in the faith in 
which he has been brought up, and to remember 
that those who honor God He will honor. Tell 
my daughter that her dying mother besought her 
to depart into Beam, far from the corruption of 
the Court." Her last instructions given, she de 
sired that the 1-kh, 15th, and 16th chapters of the 
Gospel by John should be read to her ; they had 
been, she said, her support and consolation through 
all the troubles of her troubled career. Her min- 
isters Merlin and Espina, at her desire, engaged 
frequently in prayer. " O my Saviour," she was 
heard herself to say, " hasten to deliver my spirit 
from the miseries of this life, and from the prison 
of this suffering body, that I may offend Thee no 
more, and enter joyfully into that rest which Thau 
hast promised and that my soul so longs for." A 
lew hours' more suffering, and the prayer was heard 
the prison-door was opened and the eternal rest 
was reached. 


Two short months after her decease the mar- 
riage that Jeanne d'Albret so shrank from was con- 
summated, and within a week thereafter the Mas- 
sacre of St. Bartholomew took place. One of the 
darkest features of that dark deed was the shame- 
less treatment by Catherine de Medicis, and the 
ladies of her Court, of the bodies of the slain 
treatment whose very shamelessness forbids its re- 
cital. A previous scene, however, described by one 
of themselves, prepares us for their conduct upon 
that occasion. Marguerite of Yalois so soon to 
be the daughter-in-law of the deceased tells us in 
her Memoirs that she and other ladies of the Court 
went to see the dead body of the Queen of Navarre 
as it lay in state. It shocked them to notice that 
it lay exposed upon an ordinary bed, the cur- 
tains drawn back : no darkening of the room, no 
dim-burning wax-lights, no crosses, no priests, no 
vases of holy water. But it did not shock them 
when one of their number, the Duchess of Nevers 
the one who disliked the late Queen most slip- 
ped from their side and to use now Marguerite's 
own words, " with several fine, low courtesies ap- 
proached the bed, and taking the Queen's hand in 
her own, kissed it, and then, with another profound 
obeisance, retired to their side." One's blood cur- 
dles at the recital of such polished, courtly, heart- 
less, inhuman mockery of the dead. 

Very different the sentiments with which, could 
we have entered that chamber, we should have 


lifted that hand, and looked down upon the face of 
the dead. Her life, her death, do they not kindle 
in our hearts profound admiration and esteem ? 
Her intellectual gifts, her great capacity for legis- 
lation, her sagacity in council, her promptness and 
energy in action, would rank Jeanne d'Albret 
among the most gifted of our European Queens. 
But she gets a peculiar hold of our sympathies, and 
takes a peculiar place in our regard and reverence, 
as we think of the difficulties, trials, temptations, 
seductions, that lined her chequered and sorrowful 
path ; of the heroic spirit that she displayed, the pure 
and noble principles by which she was ever anima- 
ted. Born and brought up in connexion with a 
Court in which, as Sully, who knew it so thorough- 
ly, says, next to gallantry nothing was so cultiva- 
ted as falsehood, she kept her integrity entire, 
nothing false or deceitful, nothing mean or ignoble, 
nothing shifting or tortuous, appearing in any action 
of her life, or any course of public policy she pur- 
sued. 1 There hung a shade of sadness, sometimes 
of sternness, over her : yet she was not ungentle or 
unfeminine. She had a passionate fondness for 

1 The only moral charge brought against her is that con- 
tained in a letter of the Duchess of Ferrara, in which the 
Queen of Navarre is said to have maintained in the Duchess's 
presence the position that one might lawfully deceive and 
falsify to promote religion. The letter is authentic, but the 
Duchess may have been mistaken. This at least is true, that 
no deceit nor falsehood can be detected in the long course of 
Jeanne d'Albret's reign. 


flowers, and in tapestry-work, to which she gave 
much of her time, she had few rivals. The sad- 
ness and the sternness let us in part attribute to nat- 
ural temperament, in part to early education, in 
part to the crowded difficulties and sorrows of her 
life, and in part also to the serious aspects in which 
truth and duty were always regarded by her. This 
was her crowning excellence, that she was so sin- 
cere and devout a believer in the truths of our holy 
religion. It was a light that shone from Heaven 
she loved to follow, and following it she closed a 
public career unstained with crime, in a death of 
patience and Christian hope. 



CHARLES IX., 1570-1574. 

Pope Pius V. Philip II. of Spain. How the peace of St. 
Germain-en-Laye was brought about. Proposal of breach 
with Spain. The anti-Spanish policy advocated by the 
Admiral. Conduct of Catherine de Medicis and the Duke 
of Anjou. Marriage of Henry of Navarre. Coligni 
wounded. Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Sieges of Ro- 
chelle and Sancerre. Party of the Politigues. Francis 
Othman. Death of Charles IX. 

Pope Pius "V. was a chief instigator and pro- 
moter of the third religious war in France. He 
had furnished both troops and funds for its prose- 
cution. The spirit in which he desired to see it 
conducted appears from the instructions issued to 
his soldiers, that no quarter should be given to the 
enemy. After the battle of Jarnac, he wrote thus 
to the French King : " If your Majesty continue 
to pursue openly and ardently the enemies of the 
Catholic religion, even to their extermination, be 
assured the Divine succor will not be wanting. It 
is only by the entire destruction of the heretics 
that you can restore its ancient worship to your 
noble realm." Hearing that negotiations for 
peace were opened, his Holiness wrote to Charles, 


warning him against all advisers of a peace as de- 
ceivers of his Majesty ; as men who, under the 
false pretext of the general good, forgot at once 
their faith and their loyalty. When, notwithstand- 
ing his remonstrances, the peace of St. Germain- 
en-Laye 1 was concluded, he complained of it as 
pernicious, infamous, abominable; reproaching 
Charles in such strong terms, that he was obliged 
at last to say that he was King in France, and 
would do there what he thought best. 

Ever since the inglorious treaty of Cateau-Cam- 
bresis, Philip of Spain had insisted, without ceas- 
ing, that the course which he was taking in the 
Low Countries should be followed also by France. 
He had fomented every rising against the Hugue- 
nots ; had opposed every concession made to them ; 
had lent his aid in the last war expressly on the 
condition that no treaty should be made with them ; 
did his utmost to prevent the peace ; and, when 
lie could no more, Alva expressed his monarch's 
sentiments when he declared that it was a peace 
most dangerous to Christianity. How then was a 
peace, so offensive to Spain and the Holy See, 
brought about ? Chiefly through the influence of 
a party inaugurated by De l'Hopital, which rose 
at this time into power, by obtaining a dominant 
influence over the mind of the young King. 

1 Tlie treaty of peace was signed on the 8th August 1570. 
For an abstract of its contents see Drion's Histoire Chrono- 
logique, p. 121. 


At the head of this party were Montmorency, 
the eldest son of the old Constable, his brother Dam- 
ville, and the Marshals Cosse and Biron, all zealous 
Roman Catholics, but men tired of civil war, im- 
patient of Spanish bondage, who wished to see their 
country resume the position of power and independ- 
ence which it had held in the days of Francis I. 
"Montmorency," says Walsingham, the English 
ambassador at Paris, writing on the 29th August 
1570, " who has had the chief part in bringing about 
the peace, insinuates himself more and more into 
power." A few days afterwards, "Walsingham writes 
again "Montmorency is at present all-powerful 
at the Court ; the Government of Paris has been 
put into his hands." The young King, who had 
opened his ear to these wise advisers, came to re- 
gard himself as the author of the peace ; took pride 
in calling it his treaty, his peace ; watched strictly 
over its execution ; and punished severely those 
who violated its provisions. He repeatedly declared 
that he had been mistaken in the Huguenots; that 
he now counted them good and loyal subjects ; and 
he gave orders that the nomination to all public 
offices should be made without distinction as to re- . 
li<Hon. There was everv external indication that 
he had adopted the moderate policy of De l'Hopital 
and Montmorency. 

It was from the same party who brought about 
the peace, that the proposal emanated, of the mar- 
riage of Henry of Navarre with the King's sister, 


Margaret of Valois. The marriage, like the peace, 
met with open and violent opposition from the 
Pope, who in the first instance sent his relative the 
Cardinal Alessandrino to dissuade Charles from en- 
tertaining the proposal ; and when that interven- 
tion failed, refused the dispensation necessary for 
the completion of the marriage. It was as stren- 
uously opposed by Philip, by the Guises, the Duke 
of Anjou, and the whole Spanish party in France, 
who looked upon it as a step towards the amicable 
adjustment of the religious strife which had rent 
the kingdom. There were difficulties with the 
Huguenots themselves. Jeanne d' Albret, Henry's 
mother, shrunk from the idea of such an alliance 
for her son : Coligni and the Huguenot chiefs were 
equally indisposed to it. They could not indeed 
be insensible to the great benefit to their cause 
that would arise from Henry's becoming the broth- 
er-in-law of the reigning monarch ; but they were 
naturally mistrustful of all propositions emanating 
from the Court. Montmorency, however, wrote 
to Coligni, informing him of the origin of the pro- 
posal ; Biron and Cosse visited him and the Queen 
of Navarre at Rochelle. Long conferences were 
held, such explanations made, and such assurances 
given, that at last all ob stacles in that quarter were 

What mainly indicated, however, the entrance 
upon a new line of policy was the manner in which 
the proposal of a breach with Spain, by supporting 


the Netherlander in their noble straggle, was en- 
tertained by the Court of France. Montmorency 
and his friends saw in such a course the salvation 
of their country from intestine discord, and its ad- 
vance upon a new career of conquest and glory. 
Many of their best affected Koinan Catholic fel- 
low-subjects felt bitterly the degradation of that sub- 
jection to Spanish influence under which France 
had so long been groaning. A war with Spain 
then would be popular. It offered besides to 
French ambition the easy acquisition of provinces 
that lay contiguous to its own territory. The fact 
of their inhabitants being Calvinists could create 
no difficulty, as Charles had only to extend to them 
the same toleration which he had already given to 
his own subjects of the same faith. The Nether- 
landers themselves had their eyes quite open to the 
advantage of coming under French rather than 
Spanish rule, and in despair of achieving their in- 
dependence unaided, made tempting offers to 
Charles to espouse their cause. 

The project was opened to Coligni, with a 
view to secure the co-operation of the Huguenots. 
He embraced it with the entire devotion of his 
heart. To assist in its execution became the ruling 
passion of his being. To William of Orange the 
soldier, the patriot, the Christian kinship of spirit 
linked him. They were in fact the two first and 
greatest men of their age. To Coligni nothing 
could be more attractive than to fight side by side 


with "William and his gallant brother Louis, and 
to assist them to throw off the yoke of Spain and 
its terrible Inquisition. The more he thought of 
it, the more persuaded was the Admiral that this 
was the best course for France upon purely nation- 
al grounds to take. When he heard therefore that 
the King welcomed the proposal, wished to con- 
sult with him, and thought of putting him at the 
head of the enterprise, Coligni hesitated no longer, 
but repaired to Court. The King gave him the 
most gracious reception, and restored him to all 
his honors. 

Charles was a weak, impulsive, passionate, capri- 
cious youth ; but he was not insensible to generous 
emotions, nor incapable of perceiving and estima- 
ting true worth. He saw through and despised 
the men who were his mother's favorite advisers 
and friends. The simple, earnest, grave, truthful 
unflattering man Admiral Coligni gained day 
by day a growing ascendancy over him. He de- 
lighted to hear the brave old soldier and statesman 
descant upon the future prosperity of France, her 
domestic wounds all healed, taking a first place 
once more among the great military powers of 

For a time all went favorably. An envoy was 
sent from France to cement a union with the Pro- 
testant Princes of Germany. Though marriage 
projects failed, there still might be effected a close 
political alliance between France and England, 


directed against Spain, their common enemy. So 
eagerly and successfully was this matter pressed, 
that a treaty offensive and defensive between these 
two powers was signed at Blois on the 29th April 
1572. Montmorency, who had been its chief pro- 
moter, passed over to London to have it ratified, and 
had the most distinguished reception given him at 
the British Court. All seemed pointing to a speedy 
open rupture between France and Spain. 

A counter-movement, however, had commenced. 
The Spanish party, at the head of which were 
Guise, Tavannes, Severs, De Eetz, Birague, 
wrought now upon the fears and now upon the 
pride of the Queen-mother. The life of this singu- 
lar woman, whose character it is so difficult to de- 
cipher, had been one of extraordinary vicissitude. 
Of a nervously diseased constitution form her birth, 
she had been a prey from infancy to terrors of all 
kinds. Raised to share the throne of France, she 
had for twenty years to endure the infidelity of her 
husband, the dominion of a rival, and the perpetual 
threatening of divorce. The death of her husband,' 
Henry, only brought with it to her a change of 
masters. During the brief reign of Francis II., 
the Guises, through their young niece, Mary Stuart, 
had exercised a sway scarce less despotic than that 
of Diana of Poitiers. With her son Charles's ad- 
vent to the throne, she had risen to a larger, a 
dominant share in the management of public affairs. 
Fond of intrigue, and perfect mistress of it, she was 


keen of insight into all the motives by which men 
are moved; and passionate herself (if we except 
that one passion, the love of power), cunning and 
mean in her methods of playing upon the passions 
of others. Superstitious, as the towers she built 
for her astrologers still tell, she had no strong faith 
in the truths of Christianity. Bound by hereditary 
attachment to the Papacy, she could yet sportingly 
say, when told by the first messenger from the field 
of Jarnac that the Protestants had gained the bat- 
tle, " Well, then, we shall have to say our prayers 
in French." Seeking supremely the secure pos- 
session of the throne, and the aggrandizement in 
it of her family, she cared for little else than the 
indulgence of a gay and cultivated but unrestrained 

Disposed at first to follow the moderate course 
marked out by the counsels of her wise and toler- 
ant Chancellor, De l'Hopital, by degrees she had 
got estranged from the Huguenots. Heartily dis- 
liking from the first their strict morality, she had 
given up the hope, perhaps relinquished the desire, 
of ruling by their help. The results of the first 
two religious wars had taught that they were not 
easily to be subdued by open force ; but they had 
convinced her, at the same time, that the scheme 
was vain of bringing the two religions to dwell to- 
gether in harmony. Regulating her movements 
by no fixed principles, nor by any broad political 
ideas, she had gone in for the moment with the 


measures that Montmorency and Coligni had pro- 
posed, their accomplishment offering such strong 
temptations to personal and family ambition. 

But it was with a quick and jealous eye she 
watched the estrangement of Charles, for whom 
she had little of a mother's affection, from his broth- 
er Henry, the Duke of Anjou, the only one of all 
her family that it was thought she loved. Still 
quicker, and still more jealous was the eye with 
which she watched the growing influence of the 
Admiral over the passionate but generous spirit 
of the King. Coligni, on his part, was not slow 
to perceive, what soon openly revealed itself, that 
Catherine would be on the side of Spain, against 
the aiding of the ^Netherlands ; and that if Charles 
was to be kept firm in his purpose, it could only 
be by emancipating him from that maternal thral- 
dom in which he had hitherto been held. All de- 
pended upon whether Ke or she should gain the 
supremacy over Charles. The simplicity, the ear- 
nestness, the noble candor the unselfish patriotism 
o the Admiral, for a time prevailed. Charles 
dared to assert and express his independence of 
his mother. One day that Catherine entered his 
dose! after a long conference he had had with the 
Admiral, in a piqued and taunting tone she asked 
him what it was that lie was learning in all those 
endless conversations ? "I have learned, madam," 
said the King, ' ; that I have no greater enemy than 
my mother." 



Her part now chosen, Catherine resolved to 
break a spell that she foresaw would, be used against 
herself. The King had gone to his hunting-seat 
at Montpipeau, where she knew he would be 
alone. Thither she followed him. Shutting her- 
self up with him in a cabinet, she burst into a flood 
of tears. " You hide yourself," she said, " from 
me, your mother, to take counsel with my enemies. 
You forsake the arms that have preserved you, to 
take refuge in those of an assassin. You would 
plunge your kingdom into a war with Spain, that 
would make you and all of us a prey to the Hugue- 
nots. Rather than that I should witness such a 
catastrophe, give me my dismissal, and send me 
back to the place of my birth." 

All that Charles had been secretly planning 
with Coligni, every step that had been taken to 
bring on the war, she showed him that she knew, 
representing all as a device of the Huguenots, by 
which they hoped to climb to power. Every in- 
strument that a strong-minded, strong-willed mother 
can exercise over a weak child that had long been 
subject to her Catherine wields. Astonished, af 
frighted, overcome, Charles yields, confesses error, 
pitifully asks pardon, and promises obedience. 

Released, however, from the pressure of these 
threats and tears, once more under the sway of 
Coligni's calm but resolute council, he returns to 
the anti-Spanish policy. More decisive steps than 
ever are now taken. A large body of French 


troops under Genlis march to the help of William 
of Orange, carrying with them an autograph letter 
from Charles, which fell afterwards into Alva's 
hands, betraying the King's complicity in the move- 
ment. Accurate information of all that had been 
going on had been forwarded to Alva, who, falling 
unawares upon Genlis in his march, cuts to pieces 
the 3000 men that he commanded. Catherine gets 
more impatient, Charles more irritable than ever. 
Yiolent altercations take place in the Council of 
State. Coligni is for an immediate and open rup- 
ture with Spain. " He is no true Frenchman" who 
opposes it : " these are his bold words. The King 
holds fast by Coligni. Catherine and Anjou notice 
with alarm that he is becoming more and more 
suspicious of them. 

One day the Duke of Anjou entered unexpect- 
edly the cabinet of the King, who had just had an 
interview with the Admiral. " Without speaking 
a word to me," said Anjou, afterwards describing 
the scene, " the King began in the most furious 
manner to stride back and forward across the apart- 
ment, casting at me savage looks, and put his hand 
so often in such a threatening way upon his dagger, 
that I thought every moment he was about to collar 
and to stab me. Perceiving mvself in such danger 
I lost no time in retreating as hastily as I could, 
while his back was turned to me, to the door by 
which I had entered, and with a much curter salute 
that I had given on entrance disappeared, counting 


myself happy at having effected my escape." Henry 
went instantly to his mother with the news. Some- 
thing prompt and decisive must be done. They 
agreed at last (we have Anjou's own word for it) 
that the Admiral must be assassinated. 

All the difficulties about young Henry of 
Navarre's marriage had by this time been got over, 
and the 18th August 1572 fixed as the day of the 
nuptials. Henry came to Paris escorted by the 
flower of the Huguenot nobility and gentry. There 
were not wanting many among their number whose 
hearts misgave them as they entered the capital, 
and thought how entirely they were in the hands 
of their enemies. Their reception by all parties 
w r ent far to remove their misgivings, especially their 
reception by the King. The regard and confidence 
so openly manifested by him towards the Admiral 
relieved their fears ; his personal kindness to many 
of their number confirmed the confidence. With 
Rochefoucauld and Teligni, young men about his 
own age, the latter a son-in-law of Coligni, he was 
so frank, so familiar, so confiding, as to dispel the 
shadow of suspicion. None of those who had the 
best opportunities of knowing intimately his senti- 
ments, up to this time, doubted his friendliness to 
the Huguenots. Still there were those who would 
not be persuaded, who carried their alarms to the 
Admiral, and entreated him to leave Paris. Firmly 
always, sometimes indignantly, he repelled their 
suggestions and alarms. Was he, on the very eve 


of seeing a great scheme executed that would unite 
all true Frenchmen, heal all internal strifes, and 
give back to his country her old place and renown 
among the nations, to do what would not only 
defeat that scheme, but plunge France once more 
into a religious war ? He would rather die than 
do it, rather die than distrust a monarch who had 
given him every assurance of protection and sup- 

On the morning of Friday the 22d August, 
four days after the marriage, Coligni was sent for 
to the Louvre. Returning on foot to his hotel, 
some one put a paper into his hand which he open- 
ed and was reading, walking slowly as he passed 
the cloister of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, when a 
shot was fired. Coligni owed his life to a sudden 
movement that he made. But he had not wholly 
escaped the shot of the assassin. Two balls took 
efll ct ; the one shattering the forefinger of the 
right hand, the other lodging in the left arm. 
Pointing to the house from which the shot had 
come, Coligni fell into the arms of one of his at- 
tendants, asking another to go and tell the King. 
Several of his suite now rushed to the house that 
had been indicated, forced an entrance, sought 
eagerly for the perpetrator of the deed, but he was 

The King was playing at tennis with the Duke 
of Guise and Teligni. When told of what had hap- 
pened, he flung his racket upon the ground, ex- 


claiming, ""What! am I never to have peace?" 
and retired to the Louvre. Grief and fury in his 
looks, he paced his chamber to and fro. His moth- 
er and the Duke of Anjou ventured into his pres- 
ence and tried to soothe him ; he turned on them 
disdainful looks, but would not say a word. 

Henry of ISTavarre and the young Prince of 
Conde came straight from the bedside of the Ad- 
miral. Full of sorrow and indignation, they told 
the King that neither they nor their friends could 
deem themselves any longer safe in Paris, and so- 
licited permission to depart. The King burst out 
now into a tempest of rage against the attempt on 
Coligni's life, swearing with the most terrible oaths 
that he would have justice done to the uttermost 
on all concerned in it. Relieved of their own 
fears, the two Princes returned to tell their friends 
the King's feelings and his purposes. 

The wounded man was now lying upon his bed. 
It was found necessary to amputate the finger, and 
to make deep incisions in the arm to extract the 
ball ; the operations were painful, the result uncer- 
tain. But the composure of the sufferer was un- 
ruffled. Many were weeping around him. 

" My friends," said he, " why do you weep ? I 
am, indeed, sorely wounded, but it is the will of 
God, and I thank Him that He favors me by per- 
mitting me to suffer for His name." 

" I wonder," said Marshal Damville, who came 
to visit him, " whence this can have come." 


" I suspect," said Coligni, " no one bnt the Duke 
of Guise, but I do not feel sure even as to him. 
By the grace of God, I do not fear my enemies ; the 
worst they can do to me is to bring me a little soon- 
er to my eternal rest. I grieve, however, to be de- 
prived of the opportunity of showing my King how 
greatly I desire to serve him. I wish his Majesty 
might be pleased to listen to me for a few moments. 
There are things which it concerns him to know, 
and which, perhaps, no one but myself will tell 

The desire was communicated to Charles, who 
hastened to gratify it. Catherine and the Duke of 
Anjou, alarmed about the interview, accompanied 
the King. On coming to the bedside, the King 
manifested the strongest and tenderest emotion. 

" Ah, my father," he said, " the wound is yours, 
but the anguish, the injury is mine ; and by God's 
death, I will take such vengeance as shall never be 
effaced from the memory of man ! " 

" May God never be my help," said the wound- 
ed patriot, " if I desire vengeance. Justice, I feel 
certain, I shall obtain." 

Coligni asked to be permitted to speak with 
the King alone. Charles motioned Catherine and 
Anjou away. The Admiral, believing himself to 
be dying, then unburdened his mind. The conver- 
sation was deepening in its earnestness. In her 
impatience the Queen mother at last interfered, 
and under the plea that it would be cruel to Coligni 


to tax his strength any longer, forced Charles from 
his side. 

On their way back to the Louvre, Catherine 
asked her son what the Admiral had been saying 
to him. He would not tell. Again and again, 
with increasing importunity, she urged him to let 
her know. Provoked at last, Charles turned to her, 
and said, " If you will have it, then, he told me 
that the power and management of affairs was too 
much in your hands, and that this superintendence 
and authority of yours was certain one day to be 
deeply injurious to myself and to my country. 
That is what, as one of the best and most faithful 
servants of the Crown, he wished to guard me 
against before he died ; and Eh, Men ! mon Dieu ! 
what he said was true." 

The King's conduct was in keeping with his 
words. He gave instant orders that the gates of 
the city should be closed, and every corner of it 
searched for the assassin. It soon appeared that 
the house from which the shot was fired belonged 
to one of the household of the Duke of Guise ; 
that the piece which, so soon as it had been dis- 
charged, had been flung upon the floor, belonged 
to one of the Duke's body-guard ; that the horse 
in attendance behind the house, on which the as- 
sassin had escaped, came from the Duke's stud. 
No sooner, in fact, had Catherine and Anjou re- 
solved upon the deed, than they took into their 
counsels the widow and son of the late Duke of 


Guise, who, believing the Admiral to be implicated 
in his death, cherished the bitterest hatred towards 

The suspicion that directed itself against the 
young Duke of Guise was well founded. He had 
taken a chief part in the management of the aflair. 
But as no evidence had been got to implicate him, 
he was bold enough to go next day into the royal 
presence, complain haughtily of the injustice that 
was done him, and request permission to retire from 
Court. His reception by Charles was gloomily om- 
inous. He was told he might go when and where 
he liked ; but if proved to be guilty, Charles would 
know well enough where to find him. But if the 
royal vengeance fell on him, what were Catherine 
and Anjou to do ? They could not disown and for- 
sake one who had acted only as their instrument. 
Even if they tried it, Guise and his mother could 
easily establish their connexion with the crime. Out 
of the meshes of those difficulties, in which this fail- 
ure of the attempt on the Admiral's life had in- 
volved her, what way was there "or Catherine to es- 
cape '. the one that for years she had been keeping 
as an arriere-pensee in her mind ; the one that, 
thirteen years before, Henry II. had whispered into 
the ear of William of Orange in the woods of Vin- 
cennes ; that Alva had boldly proposed to her in 
those midnight interviews at Bayonne; that her 
son-in-law, Philip of Spain, had never ceased to 
urge upon her adoption ; that her son himself, the 


King, in some of his fits of antipathy to the Hu- 
guenots, had entertained; that Pope after Pope 
had recommended, and which from so many pulpits 
had been proclaimed to the populace as the only fit 
cure for the plague of heresy in France the cut- 
ting off', not of Coligni alone, but of all the chief 
Huguenots at a stroke. Here now, in Paris, as if 
brought together for the very purpose, were the 
head and flower of that party, that a vigorous hand 
might lop off by a single blow. It could be done, 
however, only under royal warrant, and how, in his 
present mood and temper, could Charles be brought 
to give the order ? 

Catherine knew her son too well his weakness, 
his fitfulness, his suspiciousness, his proneness to 
sudden turns and frightful gusts of passion to 
despair. Late in the evening of Saturday the 23d, 
in a summer-house in the gardens of the Tuileries, 
there met in secret conclave Catherine, Anjou, 
Tavannes, De Uetz, Birague, and Nevers ; three 
out of the four chosen advisers of the Queen being 
foreigners. Their plans concerted, they sought and 
found the King in his cabinet in the Louvre. The 
fatal colloquy which followed was managed mainly 
by Catherine herself. " The Huguenots are arming 
everywhere," she told the King ; " not to serve, but 
to crush you. Their envoys are already off* with 
instructions to raise 6000 Meiter in Germany, and 
10,000 infantry in Switzerland. The Catholics on 
the other hand, are determined to be done with 


this. If you won't do as they desire, they have re- 
solved to choose a General of their own. The cit- 
izens are already under arms." 

" But I have forbidden it," cried the King. 

" It is done notwithstanding ; and now, between 
the two, what are you to do ? " 

The King asked her, what ? 

" One man," she said, " is the chief author of 
all this mischief. The Admiral has been playing 
the king, using you as the tool of his ambition 
and his party ; let him be killed. Remember the 
conspiracy of Amboise against your brother ; that 
of Heaux against yourself, when you had to fly 
before your own subjects." Then, by every ar- 
gument that could move his pride, his fear, his 
jealousy, his thirst of vengeance, she pictured to 
him all the wrongs done to the throne by Coligni 
and his friends. 

Tavannes, Birague, Nevers, Anjou seconded the 
Queen, insisting that not Coligni alone, but that all 
the Huguenots should instantly be cut off. 1 

" And now," added the Queen. " These Hugue- 
nots are coming to-morrow to demand vengeance on 
the Guises. But you cannot sacrifice the Guises. 
They will defend themselves by throwing the blame 
on your mother and brother, and justly too. Yes ; 
it was we who did it. We struck at the Admiral 

1 The Duke of Anjou mentions in his narrative of this 
.nterview that De Retz at first objected to this proposal, but 
afterwards gave in to it. 


to save the King; and you must finish the work, or 
you and all of us are lost." 

" But my honor," exclaimed the King ; " and 
my friends, the Admiral, Rochefoucauld, Teligni. 
Can no other way be thought of? " 

" Sire, you refuse," said the Queen ; " then 
give to me and your brother permission to retire 
and take our own steps to save ourselves and the 

Charles trembled at the thought of being de- 

" Sire," she said, as she made a movement to 
depart, " is it for fear of the Huguenots that you 
refuse ? " 

This taunting him with cowardice was the last 
touch of that cruel and cunning hand. Charles 
sprung up, mad with rage, and with a fearful oath 

" Then since you think it right the Admiral 
should be killed, let every Huguenot jn France 
perish with him, that there be not one left of them 
to reproach me with the act. Let it be done," he 
said, and the meeting hastily broke up. 1 It was 

1 The details of what took place at tins eventful meeting 
are derived from the narrative of the Duke of Anjou, who 
was present. The authenticity and truthfulness of this re- 
markable narrative are now generally admitted, Kanke being 
the only modern historian who expresses any doubt regard- 
ing it. The main fact in it, that Charles was difficult to be 
persuaded, and only gave way at last after extreme pressure, 
is supported by the Memoirs of Tavannes, another eye-wit- 


already past eleven o'clock when the royal sanction 
was got. It was settled that the massacre should 
begin at daybreak. 

The Queen and Anjou took the arrangements 
into their own hands. Marcel, the ex-Provost of the 
city, was summoned to the Louvre, and told to 
close the city gates and summon the Catholic citi- 
zens to arms in all their quarters. This was scarcely 
needed ; emissaries had been among them all fore- 
noon stimulating their passions against the Hugue- 
nots. To the young Duke of Guise was assigned 
the task of slaughtering all in and round the Louvre, 
beginning his bloody work by killing the Admiral. 
He called together the captains of the French and 
Swiss guards. " Gentlemen," he said, " the hour 
is come when, under sanction of the King, we may 
at length avenge ourselves upon the accursed race, 
the enemies of God. The game is in the snare, 
you must not suffer it to escape." He then posted 
the troops on each side of the Louvre, with com- 
mand to suffer no servant of the house of Bour- 
bon to pass. 

At midnight the city authorities assembled in 
the Place de Greve. The Duke addressed them 
thus : " It is the King's good pleasure that we 
should take up arms to kill Coligni, and extirpate 
all the other Huguenots and rebels. The same is 

ness, and by the Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois, which 
Michelet regards as the chief document bearing on the 


to be done in all the provinces. When the clock 
of the Palais de Justice sounds its bell at daybreak, 
let each good Catholic bind a strip of white linen 
round his left arm, and put a white cross on his 
cap, and begin the work." 

They had not to wait so long. It wanted yet 
an hour and a half of daybreak, when the Queen- 
mother, impatient of the delay, or fearing some 
change in the purpose of the King, gave orders 
that the bell of the church of St. Germain de l'Aux- 
errois should be sounded as the signal to com- 
mence. Then she and Charles and Anjou passed 
into a small apartment above the gate of the Louvre, 
and, opening the window, looked out to see the 
tragedy begin. All was still and dark : a pistol- 
shot was fired ; the solitary report struck terror into 
their hearts. Seized with a spasm of remorse, 
they sent a gentleman to the Duke of Guise, bid- 
ding him proceed no further. It was too late. 

No sooner had the signal been given than Guise 
galloped to the dwelling of the Admiral. Cos- 
seins, the captain of the King's Guard, knocked at 
the outer gate and demanded entrance. Suspect- 
ing nothing, the servant in charge opened, and fell 
under the stroke of Cossein's dagger. His follow- 
ers rushed in and filled the inner court of the hotel. 
The noise had awakened the Admiral, who lay up- 
stairs with one or two faithful attendants in his 
room. Fearing some popular outbreak, but rely- 
ing on the King's Guard stationed there for the 


purpose of protecting him, Coligni rose, put on his 
dressinsr-orown, and asked Merlin, his favorite min- 

* * 

ister, to engage in prayer. A servant rushed into 
the room. 

" My Lord," he said, " it is God who calls you. 
The hall is carried, and we have no means of re- 
sistance left." 

" I have long been prepared to die," said the Ad- 
miral ; " but save yourselves, all of you, if you can." 

Behme, a German, and other retainers of the 
Guises, now broke into the apartment. 

" Are you the Admiral ( " said Behme. 

w Yes," was Coligni's calm reply ; " but, young 
man, you should have some respect to my gray 
hairs and my infirmities." 

With a savage oath, the German plunged his 
boar-spear into his breast. Bapid sword-strokes 
from others followed. Covered with wounds, Co- 
ligni sank mangled among their feet. 

" Behme, have you done it ? " shouted the Bas- 
tard of Angouleme, from the court below. 

" It is done, my Lord," was the reply. 

" But Guise will not believe it unless he see 
him with his own eyes. Throw him out of the 

The brutal command was instantly obeyed. 
The body was flung down upon the pavement. 
The two Lords alighted and bent over it ; the face 
was besmeared with blood, and disfigured ; they 
took their handkerchiefs, and wiped the blood 


away. " 'Tis he," they said, as each kicked the 
corpse. Then in haste they mounted, and dashed 
out through the gate, shouting in triumph as they 
galloped forth, " Courage, soldiers, courage ! we 
have made a good beginning now for the others." 

At this moment, responding to the first signal 
sound, the bells of all the churches rung out their 
summons to that shameless slaughter. In a few 
hours, within a short space round the Louvre, 500 
noblemen and gentlemen were sabred or shot. 
Rochefoucauld had parted from the King but an 
hour or two before, the last to leave the palace. 
He was awakened by men entering his chamber 
in masks. Fancying it some frolic of the Prince, 
he rose to meet them, and fell pierced by their ra- 
piers at the door. The young Teligni was seen 
creeping along a house-top ; but he was such a fa- 
vorite that more than one, who as they pointed 
their pieces recognized him, held back their fingers 
from the trigger. At last the fatal shot was fired, 
and he fell dead upon the st. eet. 

Margaret, the young Queen of Navarre, gives 
us a glimpse into the interior of the palace. " I 
saw every one in agitation," she says, " but no one 
told me any thing till the evening, when being 
with the Queen my mother, sitting near my sister 
of Lorraine, who I saw was very sorrowful, the 
Queen noticed me, and told me to retire. As I 
made my courtesy, my sister seized me by the arm, 
and stopping me began to weep, saying, ' My sis- 


ter do not go.' This frightened me excessively, 
which the Queen perceived, and calling very an- 
grily to my sister forbade her to tell me any thing. 
My sister said it was shocking to send me to be 
sacrificed in that way. The Queen answered, Be 
it as it might, I must go, lest they should suspect 
something. They continued to dispute, but I could 
not hear their words. At length the Queen told 
me very roughly to go to bed, and my sister burst- 
ing into tears bade me good-night. I went away 
shivering and trembling. ... At daybreak the 
King rose and quitted the room. I begged my 
nurse to shut the door, and fell asleep. ... I had 
only slept an hour when I was startled by the 
cries of some one striking with hands and feet 
against the door, and calling loudly ' Navarre ! Na- 
varre ! ' My nurse rose and opened it, when a gen- 
tleman called Tejan rushed in, having a sword- 
wound in his elbow, and one from a halberd in 
his arm, pursued by four of the Guard. He threw 
himself upon the bed, from which I sprang, and 
he after me, catching me in his bloody arms, both 
of us screaming with terror. At last, by God's 
help, Monsieur de Nancay came in, who finding 
me in that situation could not help laughing. He 
scolded the archers for their indiscretion, and hav- 
ing ordered them out of the room, granted me the 
life of the poor gentleman, whom I hid in my cab- 
inet till he was cured. 

" While I was changing my dress, which was 


covered with blood, M. de Nancay told me what 
was going on, assuring me that the King, my hus- 
band, was in the King's own apartment, and was 
safe. Throwing a cloak over me, he led me to the 
chamber of my sister of Lorraine, where I arrived 
more dead than alive. As I entered the antecham- 
ber, the doors of which were all open, a gentleman 
named Bourse, flying from the archers who were 
pursuing him, received a blow from a halberd and 
fell dead at my feet. I swooned in the arms of M. 
de Nancay who thought the same blow had 
struck both at once, and was carried into my sis- 
ter's room." 

But the archers' work in the chambers and pas- 
sages of the Palace, daring and desperate as it was, 
was a restrained and orderly execution, as compared 
with that perpetrated throughout the city by sixty 
thousand men princes, nobles, soldiers, citizens 
with all kinds of murderous weapons in their hands, 
under no command, throwing off all restraint, all 
pity, every vestige of human feeling, turned for the 
time into incarnate demons; Guise, Tavannes, 
Nevers, and others, hounding them on with shout- 
ings of " Down with the Huguenots ! Kill ! kill ! 
blood-letting is as good in August as in May ! 
Kill ! kill ! 'tis the command of the King ! " And 
king never had command more thoroughly obeyed. 
Two thousand unsuspecting, helpless, half-naked 
men were slaughtered that morning, their bodies 
flung out at windows, dragged through the mire, 


pitched into the river, amid whistlings and howl- 
ings, and yells of delight, and oaths of a horrible 
blasphemy. 1 

At mid-day of that Snnday, the King thought 
good to hold his hand, and sent an order to the 
authorities of the city to check the massacre. And 
his mother and he employed the leisure of that 
Sunday evening in writing despatches to foreign 
Powers, attributing the massacre wholly to the 
Guises, going so far even as to say that they had had 
enough to do to protect themselves in the Louvre. 

But Charles had raised a demon he could not 
lay. Next forenoon, in the Cemetery of the In- 
nocents, a miracle was announced ; a hawthorn 

1 Geschichte des Franzosischen Galvinismus. Von Gottlob 
von Polenz. Gotha, 1859. Vol. ii. pp. 432-563, and 718-720. 

Geschichte des Protestantismus in Frankreich bis zum 
Tode Karls IX. Von Dr. Wilhelm Gottlieb Soldan. Leipzig, 
1855. Vol. ii. pp. 399-472. 

It is from this historian that the general view of the origin 
of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew given in this volume 
has been derived. A French translation of the part of Sol- 
dan's History relating to this event appeared under the title, 
La France et la Saint Barthtlemy. Par M. G. G. Soldan, 
traduit de l'Allemand, par Charles Schmidt. Paris, 1855. 

Henri Martin in his Histoire de France takes the same 
view, referring to Soldan as the " learned and judicious Pro- 
fessor of Giessen." Michelet's narrative in Guerres de Re- 
ligion, chapters 21-26, is of the same tenor. 

See also Essai sur VAvenir de la Tolerance. Par Ad. 
Schaeffer. Paris, 1859, pp. 203-282. 

La Saint Barthelemy. Par Ath. Coquerel, Fils. Paris. 


had flowered in the night emblem of the Church 
flourishing once again. The fanatic city mob got 
more excited than ever. The bells all rang out 
again. The massacre began with greater barbari- 
ty than ever, and went on more or less throughout 
the week. The business now was to search out 
every Huguenot that was left, to let not even the 
youngest child escape. Infants packed in baskets, 
amid jeering laughter were flung over the bridge 
into the Seine. Little boys not ten years old were 
seen dragging with cords in triumph along the 
streets, a Huguenot infant torn from its slaughtered 
mother's breast. 

Upon the streets, there lay together, weltering 
in their blood, a father and his two sons, apparent- 
ly all dead. Many as they passed stopped for a 
moment to gaze upon the group. "'Tis all the 
better so, they said ; it is nothing to kill the wolves, 
if you do not kill their little ones along with them." 
The bodies lay all still. At last there came a soli- 
tary man who, as he stopped and looked, gently 
raised his hands to heaven, and said in pitiful in- 
dignation, " God will avenge that deed ! " And 
then the youngest of the children raised its little 
head from out its bath of blood, and said, "I am 
not dead. Take me to the arsenal, and M. de Bi- 
ron will pay you well." The child that had the 
singular self-possession to feign itself dead so long, 
and was thus preserved, was Caumont de la Force, 
the head of a distinguished family, who lived to 


do good service afterwards to the Huguenot cause 
in France. 

As little respect was paid to character as to 
age. Pierre de la Place, a distinguished jurist and 
historian, had a message sent to him that he was 
wanted at the Louvre. Suspecting the object, he 
fled out of his own house, tried the houses of 
three friends, was repulsed from each, returned to 
his own dwelling, gathered his family round him 
aud engaged in prayer. The message came a sec- 
ond time, with an urgency that he could not re- 
sist. He bade adieu to his household, but had not 
gone far upon his way when he fell under the dag- 
gers of the assassins. 

Peter Ramos still a name of renown in the 
world of scholarship and philosophy, the highest 
name, in fact, that France had then to boast of 
retired into his library in the fifth story of the 
house, and was kneeling there in prayer when they 
broke in upon his retirement. They stopped a 
moment. They heard him say, " O my God, have 
mercy on me, and pardon those who know not 
what they do ! " A sword was passed through his 
bodv, a shot fired at his head. He still breathed. 
His murderers seized him and flung him out of 
the window. Still he breathed, but no one would 
give him the coup de grace. They tied cords, in- 
stead, about his feet, and dragged him through 
the streets. At last, by the river's side, they cut 
the head off, and flung the trunk into the stream. 


Coligni's body was exposed to still more bar- 
barous treatment. His head was earned to Cath- 
erine, as the Baptist's was to Herodias, and sent 
by her as a trophy to the Cardinal of Lorraine at 
Rome. The headless trunk, subjected to indescriba- 
ble indignities, after having been dragged to and 
fro through the streets, was hung up by the feet, 
half burnt upon a gibbet at Montfaucon. Two 
days afterwards, the King and Catherine, and the 
Court ladies, made a holiday excursion to the spot, 
shamelessly to gaze on and to jeer at the marred 
and mutilated remains of the greatest man that 
France had in that age produced. 

With marvellous speed the news of the Paris- 
ian massacre spread over France, and so ripe and 
ready for it was the Catholic population, that each 
city, as it got the tidings, had its own St. Barthol- 
omew. They heard of it at Meaux on the Sunday 
evening; that night the streets of Meaux were 
drenched in blood. They heard of it at Orleans 
on Tuesday the 26th; for a week onward from 
that date Catholic Orleans gave itself up to the 
pillage and murder of its Huguenot inhabitants. 
They heard of it in Lyons on Thursday the 28th, 
and scenes of horror, outrivalling those of Paris, 
were day by day enacted, the Phone literally so 
red with blood, that the inhabitants of Aries, and 
other towns below Lyons, for days abstained from 
drinking its waters. Orleans, Rouen, Bordeaux, 
Toulouse, Angers, Saumur, Bourges, and other 


towns, followed the lead. Premeditated as to the 
general design, but not preconcerted as to the time 
and mode of its execution, the massacre of St. 
Batholomew was not the gusty act of a single 
night. It was the prolonged and wide-spread 
massacre of six weeks and more, all over J ranee, 
in the course of which 30,000 Huguenots were 
cut off. 1 

The King at first, as we have seen, would have 
thrown the odium upon the Guises. A day's re- 
flection satisfied him, or rather convinced Catherine 
and her advisers, that it must be openly avowed. 
On Tuesday the 26th, Charles, accompanied by his 
Court, appeared before the Parliament of Paris, 
acknowledged that the order had been given by 
himself, vindicating it by asserting that Coligni 
and his friends had embarked in treasonable de- 
signs, and had meditated an assault upon the throne 
The obsequious Parliament heard and applauded, 
appointing an annual festival in Paris to commem- 
orate the day. 

Philip of Spain got speedy information of the 
event, and sent off immediately six thousand 
crowns to the murderer of Coligni. " The news," 

1 Histoire de France, par Henri Martin, torn. ix. pp. 327 
and 339. La France et le Saint BariheUrney, par M. Q. Q. 
Soldan, p. 9& 

Perefix gives the number slain all ov*ir France as 100,000 ; 
Le Reveille-Matin, 100,000 ; Sully, 70,000 ; De Thou, 30,000 ; 
Popiliniere, 20,000 ; Papyre Masson, one of the panegyrista 
of the massacre, 10,000. 


says the French Envoy at Madrid, " arrived here 
on the 7th September. The King, on receiving 
the intelligence, showed, contrary to his natural 
custom, so much gayety, that he seemed more de- 
lighted than with all the good fortune or happy 
incidents which had ever before occurred to him. 
I went to see him next morning, and as soon as I 
came into his presence, he began to laugh, and 
with demonstrations of extreme contentment to 
praise your Majesty as deserving your title of Most 
Christian, telling me there was no king worthy to 
be your Majesty's companion, either for valor or 
prudence. I thanked him ; and I said that I 
thanked God for enabling your Majesty to prove 
to his master that his apprentice had learned his 

At Home the joy was greater than at Madrid. 
Gregory XIII., who had just ascended the pontifi- 
cal throne, went at the head of his Cardinals, and 
all the ambassadors of the Catholic Princes, in sol- 
emn procession to the different churches of the 
city, to have masses and Te Denims chanted over 
the deed. In the evening the guns of St. Angelo 
were fired as for a great victoiy, and for three 
nights the city was illuminated, the Pope exclaim- 
ing that the massacre was more agreeable to him 
than fifty victories of Lepanto. Vasari was in- 
structed to execute a large picture, still to be traced 
on the walls of the Sixtine Chapel, representing 
the massacre, beneath which were the words, " Pon- 


tifex Coligni necem probat." 1 A medal was 
struck ; on one side the crest of the reigning Pope, 
on the other, that of a destroying angel smiting 
the Huguenots. Mark Antony Muret, preaching 
before the Pope, exclaimed : " O memorable night, 
worthy of a distinction all its own among our fes- 
tivals ! I love to think that the stars that night 
shone with a more silvery brilliance, that the Seine 
rolled its waters more impetuously, as if in haste 
to fling into the sea the corpses of the impure it 
carried. O day full of joy and gladness, when you, 
thrice holy Father, received the tidings, and went 
to render solemn thanks to God ! What happier 
commencement for your pontificate could you have 

Yery different was the reception given to the 
news in England. Elizabeth was at Woodstock 
with her Court. She had heard all from her own 
ministers before La Motte Fenelon, the French 
Ambassador, came down from London personally 
to announce it. It was a dull and rainy day. The 
ambassador was ushered into a room hung with 

1 See a learned and elaborate article on the Massacre of St. 
Bartholomew in the North British Review, vol. li. p. 30-70. 
The writer succeeds in proving that many persons anticipa- 
ted such a slaughter of the Protestants, and that members of 
the French Government had given reason to some of the for- 
eign ambassadors to expect it ; but he does not succeed in 
disproving the view that Soldan, Martin, and Michelet have 
presented of the general current of events, and especially of 
the conduct of the King. 


black. The Queen and Court were all in mourn- 
ing. Every eye was bent upon the ground. " Sir," 
said Elizabeth to him in reply to his communica- 
tion, " Heaven weeps for the miseries of France. 
Your King must be a very cruel master to have so 
many traitors among his subjects. It seems that 
men were wishing to put that commandment out of 
the Decalogue, Thou shalt not kill." A touch of 
Elizabethan stiff formality, and Elizabethan mas- 
culine boldness in that reception, but such a touch 
of nature, too, as has made all the world akin ; for, 
that sentiment of the English Court, is it not now 
the sentiment of broad humanity, which in every 
land weeps over and abhors that massacre of St. 
Bartholomew as one of the foulest crimes that ever 
stained our globe ? 

The massacre was at its height, the streets of 
Paris were running with blood, the courts of the 
Louvre were ringing with the shouts of the mur- 
derers, the paroxysm of fury into which Charles 
had been lashed was still on him, when Henry 
and Conde were summoned into the King's pres- 
ence. Pouring blasphemous rebukes on them, he 
demanded an instant recantation of their faith. 
Henry bent before the 6torm, and in ambiguous 
phrase declared that, provided his conscience was 
left at peace, he was willing to do whatever the 
King required. With greater boldness, Conde 
said that he would die rather than deny the truth. 


The King gave him three days to deliberate. The 
three days made no change in Conde's purpose, 
nor had they done much to mitigate the choler of 
the King. " The Mass," he fiercely exclaimed to 
the young Prince, when brought again into Ins 
presence, "the Mass, or death, or the Bastile." 
Conde told him that he might choose for him be- 
tween the two latter, as with the Mass he was re- 
solved to have nothing to do. The King would 
have taken his life with his own hand upon the 
spot had he not been restrained. Time, however, 
the hopelessness of their condition, and the per- 
suasion and the example of others, effected what 
Charles's threatenings failed to "bring about, and 
both Princes for a time conformed to the Homan 
Catholic worship. 

Those fearful gusts of passion into which 
Charles IX. was so easily hurried had terrible inter- 
ludes of despondency and remorse. " Ambrose," 
said he one day soon after the massacre, to his 
cherished physician Pare, "I don't know what 
ails me ; my whole frame seems in a fever. I see 
nothing round me but hideous faces covered with 
blood. I wish the weak and innocent had been 
spared." Years afterwards the King of Navarre 
was in the habit of telling his intimate friends, 
never however but with horror painted on his 
countenance, that eight days after the massacre a 
multitude of ravens, croaking dismally, settled on 
the great pavilion of the Louvre. The noise they 


made brought out every one to look at them, and 
the superstitious ladies of the Court infected the 
King with the terror they felt at the sight. The 
same night the Kiug, two hours after he had gone 
to rest, sprang up, called to those who were in his 
chamber, and sent for the King of Navarre and 
others to listen to a loud noise in the air ; a con- 
cert of screams, groanings, howlings, and furious 
voices, menacing and blaspheming, just as they 
were heard on the night of the massacre. The 
sounds seemed so distinct and articulate, that, fear- 
ing a new disaster, Charles despatched in all haste 
his guards into the city to stop the carnage, but 
they brought back word that all was quiet there. 
The King continued greatly agitated, and for seven 
successive nights the sounds returned, being heard 
precisely at the same hour. 

Other things than sounds in the air soon came 
to trouble the Court. In that bloody grave of St. 
Bartholomew's Day it had imagined that the pow- 
er of the Huguenots lay buried. But now, before 
the summer was over, the startling news reached 
Paris that the whole south of France was once 
more in arms, and that Montauban, Nismes, San- 
cerre and Rochelle were in the hands of the Hu- 
guenots. A powerful army was despatched to re- 
duce Rochelle, as their strongest and most import- 
ant hold. The army was composed of nearly the 
whole available force of the kingdom. It was led 
by the young Duke of Anjou, the conqueror of 


Jarnac and Moncontour. He was accompanied by 
the Dukes d'Aumale, Guise, Mayenne, Severs, 
Bouillon, the Marshals Biron, De Cosse, Montluc, 
and a large body of the nobility. Against all this 
array of war the Roehellese had but about 1000 
regular troops and 2000 volunteers of their own 
citizens trained to arms. Animated not so much 
by a political as by a religious spirit, this spirit fired 
and stimulated by the fifty ministers who had 
found refuge within their walls, the brave inhabit- 
ants resolved to defend their city to the last. They 
marched to the ramparts, not at the sound of the 
trumpet, but singing one or other of their favorite 
Psalms. In the thick of the conflict women of all 
ranks, the wives and daughters of the combatants, 
were to be seen carrying off the dead and wounded, 
supplying refreshments to the weary, not unfre- 
quently mingling personally in the strife. The en- 
thusiasm rose as the danger rose, and happily, 
though the town was strictly blockaded both by 
land and by sea, the extreme pressure of famine 
was unfelt. The siege lasted for four months; 
twenty-nine assaults were given; seventy mines 
dug and attempted to be sprung ; 35,000 cannon- 
shot were hurled against the walls ; 12,000 of the 
besiegers were slain in the fight, and a still great- 
er number perished from disease on the march and 
in the camp. Yet Hochelle remained untaken. 

Even this defence, heroic as it was, fails in com- 
parison with that made by the little town of San- 


cerre. A few hundred men, many of them with- 
out fire-arms, furnished only with their slings, in 
the use of which they were proverbially expert, 
placed behind ill-built walls, that crumbled under 
every cannon-shot of the enemy, defended them- 
selves there for ten months against 5000 troops sup- 
plied with all the munitions of war. Again and 
again the attempt to take the town was made, but 
made in vain. The siege was then turned into a 
blockade, and the horrors of famine fell upon the 
besieged. The details have been preserved in the 
Journal of one of the ministers, De Leri. The sup- 
ply of food failing, orders were at last issued that 
the allowance for each man, whether soldier or cit- 
izen, should be half a pound of bread per day ; a 
few days later this was reduced to a quarter 
pound per day ; still later, to one pound per 
week. Horses, asses, dogs, and cats were all de- 
voured in turn. Half-famished children were to 
be seen eager in the chase of rats, moles, and mice, 
roasting them and ravenously devouring them when 
caught. De Leri, who had suffered all the horrors 
of famine on a five months' voyage from the Bra- 
zils, remembered that life had been sustained among 
the crew and passengers by leather soaked and cut in 
strips and then dressed like tripe. The suggestion 
was eagerly caught at. Every article of skin or 
leather was sought for, and various ways of pre- 
paring this unnatural food invented. This resource 
too failed, and then parchments, letters, title-deeds, 


manuscripts, and books hundreds of years old, were 
turned into food. " I myself" says De Leri, " have 
seen them eagerly eaten when the writing was still 
visible on the fragments served up in the dish, and 
could be read distinctly." The mortality from 
sheer want of food grew to be so great that from 
twenty-live to thirty funerals occurred daily. Pale 
countenances, with tearless eyes, gazed into the 
open graves, as if envying the rest that was to be 
found there. Of the children under twelve years 
old, scarcely one survived. Only 84 men fell under 
the shot of the enemy, while 500 perished from 
hunger. A spectacle more horrible than all beside 
met the eye when in the public square of the town 
a scaffold was erected, and the death-knell tolled 
for an execution. Parents, vicious in their habits 
and brutalized by want, had been found feeding on 
the dead body of their child. The horrors of Sa- 
maria, of Usumantia, of Jerusalem, were equalled 
if not exceeded at Sancerre. But though wander- 
ing about like phantoms, sinking to the ground 
from weariness and want, the inhabitants resolved 
to die to the last man, rather than put themselves 
in the hands of those by whom the Massacre of St. 
Bartholomew had been perpetrated. 

The same political event brought relief both to 
Sancerre and to Eochelle. The Estates of Poland 
had elected Henry of Anjou to be their king. 
Polish ambassadors, many of whom were Protes- 
tants, came to lay their crown at the young Duke's 


feet, charged at the same time to do their utter- 
most to mitigate the sufferings to which their co- 
religionists, the Calvinists of France, were exposed. 
It became for the time the policy of the French 
Court to deal tenderly with the Huguenots. A 
treaty was concluded, by which the free exercise of 
the Reformed faith, as well as their ancient muni- 
cipal privileges, were granted to the three cities of 
Rochelle, Nismes, and Montauban. Sancerre was 
cruelly disappointed on learning that it was left 
out. It still, notwithstanding the disappointment, 
stood out in its defence, and won the due reward 
of its bravery in the same terms being formally 
conceded to it. The Protestants generally were 
disappointed with an arrangement which, though 
it allowed liberty of conscience to all, confined 
within so narrow limits the public profession and 
exercise of their faith. On the 26th August 1573, 
the anniversary of St Bartholomew, deputies from 
all the Protestant Churches of France met at Mon- 
tauban and drew up a petition to the Crown, in 
which they not only craved a free and universal 
liberty of worship, but demanded that the authors 
of the late massacre should be punished, the sentence 
against Coligni reversed, the charges against him 
pronounced to be calumnious, and a full pardon 
granted to all who, since the massacre, had taken 
up arms in their own defence. As the bold, out- 
spoken document was publicly read to him, the 
King stood stupefied ; but the Queen-mother, who 


was by his side, could not restrain her surprise and 
indignation. (; Why ! " she exclaimed, " if Conde 
were still alive, with 50,000 foot and 30,000 horse 
at his command, he conld not have asked the half 
of what is here demanded." Bland speeches, how- 
ever, had to be made to quiet in the mean time the 
presenters of this petition. Bnt it effectually taught 
the Court how signally, as a means of crushing Pro- 
testantism, the great crime of the massacre had 
failed. The spirit that had risen up so fresh and 
strong in the Huguenots was still further reinvig- 
orated by the approach now made to them by that 
party which had dictated the Peace of St. Germain. 
This party, the JPolitiques, at the head of which 
were the Montmorency s, Biron, Cosse, Brissac, and 
others, were Roman Catholics, but they had im- 
bibed the tolerant spirit and principles of the great 
Chancellor De l'Hopital. They were lovers of 
peace, tired of the religious strife by which France 
had been so torn and weakened. They longed to 
see her once more united regain that position 
and that strength from which she had fallen. There 
was nothing that they dreaded more than Spanish 
intervention in French affairs, a sure step, as they 
took it to be, to Spanish domination and control. 
They were jealous of the influence that so many 
foreigners had already attained at Court, and they 
were satisfied that by their means it was the design 
of the politic Queen-mother to raise and establish the 
royal yower on the ruins of the ancient nobility of 


the realm. They formed the project, therefore, by 
union with the Huguenots, to deliver their coun- 
try from the rule of Catherine and her cour- 
tiers, and to establish a pure and strong, a broad 
and tolerant government, in France. The more 
religious section of the Huguenots shrank from a 
coalition that had in it so much more of the politi- 
cal than the religious. But they were overruled 
by the majority, and at the first of their purely 
political meetings, whose separate history has been 
given to the public by Anquez, 1 the terms of the 
union between the Huguenots and the tiers parti 
were adjusted. 

Learning and genius hastened to lend their aid 
to the great cause of union and of liberty. The tyran- 
ny of the government was based on the assumption 
of the Divine right of the sovereign to dictate in all 
things absolutely to all his subjects. Thoughtful 
men began to question an assumption that covered 
and justified so much cruelty and oppression. In 
numerous pamphlets the bases of the social con- 
tract were discussed with a freedom that indicated 
the rise of a wholly new set of political ideas. A 
posthumous work on Voluntary Servitude, by Eti- 
enne de la Boetie, the friend of Montaigne, 
made an impression on the public mind of France 
inferior only to that made about this time by a 

1 Histoire des Assemblees Politiques des Reformes de France. 
Par Leonce Anquez, Professeur de l'Histoire au Lycee Saint 
Louis. Paris, 1859. 


treatise coming from the pen of the celebrated juris- 
consult Francis Othman. Touched by the sight of 
the martyrdom of Anne du Bourg, Othman had in 
early life become a Protestant. His prospects in life 
were blasted ; his father disinherited him ; he was 
driven as an exile from France. Lausanne opened 
to him the Chair of Belles-Lettres in its college ; 
and in that quiet retreat he devoted himself for 
years to a profound study of the civil law, especi- 
ally of the Roman jurisprudence. The learning, 
the originality, the genius displayed in his writings, 
won for him a European celebrity. Tempting 
offers came in upon him from all quarters. German 
Universities strove to appropriate him; our own 
Elizabeth invited him to Oxford. But he refused 
all their invitations, resolved to devote himself to 
the interests of his native land. Othman was at 
Bourses when the news of the massacre of St. Bar- 
tholomew spread over France. He saved himself 
by flying to Sancerre, mourning the loss of his 
valuable library. From Sancerre he escaped to 
Geneva, from which city of freedom he now launch- 
ed the famous volume La Gaule Franque. The 
author boldly put the question, Have the people 
ever the right to resist and revolt against the roy- 
al authority % and as boldly he answers that at 
times they have. The contract is a mutual one 
between the King and his subjects, and whichever 
of the two parties flagrantly violates one of the 
primary natural and indefeasible conditions upon 


which all such contracts rest, forfeits all the rights 
that it bestows. The notion of a Divine right ex- 
amined and repelled, Othman places the sovereignty 
ultimately in the people. The King, he says, is for 
the people, not the people for the King. It was but 
a reduction of this theory into practice when so many 
of the Reformed communities in France adopted, as 
they did at this time, a federate democratic consti- 
tution, providing not only for the conduct of a war in 
defence of their liberties, but for all the ordinary 
purposes of government an early and premature 
shadow "of the French Republic of modern times, 
with this great difference, that the prime princi- 
ple and motive in the projected Huguenot repub- 
lic of 1574 was a strong religious faith. That cen- 
tral element of power which, if preserved, had 
guided and restrained the others, was trampled 
out in the course of the eighteenth century, 
under the iron hoof of civil and ecclesiastical op- 
pression. The purely political element was left 
to act alone against the oppressors, and France 
reaped the fruits in the impieties and fearful inhu- 
manities of the Republic of 1798. 

For the new confederacy between the Hugue- 
nots and the tiers parti, a temporary chief was 
found in the King's youngest brother, the Duke 
of Alencon. The Duke had gained the favor of 
the Protestants by having protested against the 
attempt on the life of Coligni, and his having tak- 
en no part in the massacre of St. Bartholomew. 


His intense jealousy of his elder brother, Henry of 
Anjon, who was the acknowledged leader of the 
extreme Catholic party, threw him naturally into 
association with the Montmorency s and the Tiers- 
tat which they headed. When his brother went 
to Poland, he cherished the design of excluding 
him from the succession, and taking the French 
throne on the death of Charles ; and it was alone 
by the help of the Confederates that any such de- 
sign could be carried out. 

It was arranged that D'Alencon, Kavarre, and 
Conde, escaping from the semi-bondage in which 
they were held at Court, should place themselves 
openly at the head of the malcontents. The 10th 
March 1574 was the day fixed on for their flight. 
The Huguenots were to rise in the south under the 
gallant La Xoue, whilst a chosen band under Guitre 
was to approach St. Germains, and cover the es- 
cape of the Princes. When the day came, D'Alen- 
con's courage failed. To cover himself from the 
consequences, he went and revealed the whole plot 
to the Queen-mother. Catherine felt or simulated 
an extremity of terror. There was a midnight 
flight of the whole Court to Paris. La Mole and 
Coconas, two friends and agents of D'Alencon, 
were tried and beheaded. The Marshals Montmo- 
rency and Cosse were thrown into the Bastile, and 
the young Princes of Navarre and Conde confined 
under strict watch in the castle of Yincennes. Un- 
daunted by these events, La Noue advanced to meet 


the storm gathering to overwhelm him, when the 
death of Charles IX., on 30th May 1574, once more 
changed the current of affairs. 

Charles never recovered the shock of the fatal 
night at Paris. We cannot lay on him, indeed, the 
chief burden of that crime. He was the dupe of 
deeper designs. Neglected in his education, worse 
taught he often complained than many of his 
valets, he had not only been suffered, he had been 
encouraged and excited, to gratify some of the worst 
and strongest propensities of Ins nature ; and when 
the hour for using him as their tool arrived, those 
who had so encouraged and excited knew well how 
to play upon his passions. At his death it was sus- 
pected that poison had been administered. But it 
seemed needless to imagine this in order to account 
for his death. He had never been robust. To in- 
vigorate a frame diseased from the beginning, he had 
recourse to the most violent exercises. A smith's 
forge was erected for him, at which he would toil 
for hours forging great iron bars or beating out suits 
of armor. Often he would rise at midnight, mount 
one of his fleetest steeds, and gallop off to the chase, 
blowing furiously on the horn, or hallooing at the 
top of his voice to the hounds. Again, for hours 
together, he would play at tennis till he had utter- 
ly exhausted himself. These were the pastimes to 
which, when his strength began to fail, he would 
insist on betaking himself, aggravating the malady 
under which he sank. The evil demon of his 


life that grew in its tyranny over him as he 
grew less able to resist it was his liability to those 
tornadoes of passion by which all the better princi- 
ples and feelings of his nature were for the time 
scattered to the winds. Snch better principles and 
feelings undoubtedly were there. The fine taste for 
poetry and music that broke but in him so sponta- 
neously revealed sensibilities that, rightly cultiva- 
ted, might have made him a very different man. 
Let us give him, besides, the benefit of the belief 
that he carried by inheritance the seeds of a semi- 
insanity in his constitution seeds fostered rather 
than repressed ; under better treatment in his 
youth and with better influences around him on 
the throne, he might have escaped the ignominy 
with which his name and reign are now so deeply 



HENRY III., 1574-1589. 

Origin of the League. Henry and his Mignons. Projects of 
Philip II. of Spain. Alliance contracted at Joinville. 
Treaty of Nemours. Effect upon Henry of Navarre. 
Papal Bull against Henry, and his reply. Exploit at St. 
Foy. Interview with Catherine. Battle of Coutras. 
The day of the Barricades. The Spanish Armada. Meet- 
ing of the Estates at Blois. Assassination of the Duke of 
Guise. State of Paris. Interview between the two Hen- 
rys at Plessis-les Tours. Arrival before Paris. Death 
of Henry III. 

The first ten years of Henry III.'s reign were 
years of comparative repose for the Huguenots. 
At first, indeed, he seemed disposed to prosecute 
the war against them, fired with all his early ha- 
tred of heresy. The strength however that their 
union with the politicians gave them, the presence 
of D'Alencon, Navarre, and Conde, each of whom 
had in turn escaped the two latter throwing off 
their profession of Roman Catholicism instantly on 
their liberty being regained, and the imposing 
military preparations which were in progress, in- 
duced the King to pause. The Queen-mother had 


recourse to her ordinary expedient of negotiation 
and, on the 5th of May 1576, a treaty was conclud- 
ed, in which very favorable terms 1 were granted to 
the Huguenots. So little intention however had 
Henry to abide by the terms of that treaty, that when 
the Estates of the realm assembled in December of 
the same year, he actually proposed a measure for the 
utter extirpation of the Calvinists. A verbal res- 
olution to that effect the Estates were quite willing 
to pass, but when the question as to the raising of 
the supplies necessary to the carrying on of the ex- 
terminating campaign came up for discussion, not 
only were all the projects of taxation that Henry 
and his council submitted rejected, but measures, 
some of them trenching deeply on the royal pre- 
rogative, and all of them in the highest degree of- 
fensive to the King, were openly proposed and gen- 
erally supported. Henry took his revenge by re- 
turning to the policy of toleration, and in the years 
1577, 1579, 1580 the successive edicts of Poitiers, 
Kerac, and Perigord gave even larger privileges to 
the Huguenots than those they had previously en- 

Slowly however throughout all these ten years 
a power had been gathering that was about to 
plunge France into the broadest and bloodiest of 
all her civil wars. At the very commencement of 
Henry's reign the extreme Catholic party had 
been scandalized at the ease with which toleration 

1 Drion's Eutoire Chronologique, etc., p. 145. 


had been extended to the heretics, and its disaffec- 
tion grew as that toleration was continued and en- 
larged. Many of the chief offices of State, as well 
as many of the leading provincial governments, had 
ordinarily been in the hands of some of the old no- 
bility, members of this party in the State. But it 
now saw these gradually withdrawn from them to 
be put into the hands of those young favorites 
his Mignons as they were called by whom the 
King delighted to be surrounded. To make these 
gay and giddy youths the daily and nightly com- 
panions of his pleasures might have been tolera- 
ted ; but to elevate them to places of dignity and 
power, and that to the exclusion of old and able 
servants of the Crown, was more difficult to en- 
dure. The effeminate frivolities and puerile su- 
perstitions in which the King indulged added 
contempt to scorn, and deprived Henry of that 
respect which a belief in his sincere attachment to 
Catholicism might still have preserved for him. 
It was truly one of the strangest pictures that 
royalty ever presented which Henry III. offered 
to the eyes of his subjects. Let us take a glance 
or two at life in the Louvre as it then went on. 
Henry sleeps in an apartment whose floor is 
strewn with roses and other flowers, on a bed hung 
with cloth of silver, his head reposing on crimson 
satin pillows, his body wrapped in a white satin 
night dress, his hands covered with richly embroi- 
dered gloves, and his face protected by a half mask 

HEKKT m. 211 

saturated with odoriferous oil. The chief valet 
enters, and the laborious toilet begins. What this 
was in the royal chamber may be imagined from 
what meanwhile goes on in another room in the 
palace, in which one of his Mignons is passing 
throngh the process. The patient seats himself 
upon a chair, one valet holds a mirror before his 
face, another comes and with powder from a box of 
cypress wood powders his head. Another ap- 
proaches, and with a delicate instrument removes 
all superfluous hair from his master's eyebrows; 
another comes, and after washing them with per- 
fumed waters, first lays strongly one deep chosen 
color upon the beard, and then gently tinges with 
all appropriate corresponding hues the cheeks, lips, 
neck, and forehead. Then the various articles of 
dress are put on and adjusted the doublet drawn 
so tight that two or three of these valets have to 
assist in buttoning it. Let the rings now be put 
upon the fingers and the chains of gold hung over 
the neck, and his embroidered handkerchief, and 
his portable mirror, and his comfit-box, and his 
hat and plumes be handed to him, and he is in fit 
attire to go and spend the forenoon with his royal 
master. Some idle hours of the forenoon are lounged 
away in a divan ; the King and his favorites rest- 
ing on velvet cushions, drinking sherbet, and serv- 
ing out to one another the last and richest morsels 
of the current Court gossip, generally some tale 
of scandal that one blushes now to hear or read. 


All the while the King is fondling the lap-dogs 
that lie in dozens around him, or making one of 
his best-taught parrots repeat the ribald refrain 
that he has been taught, or exciting one of his tame 
apes to grin and show its teeth. These little lap- 
dogs are especial favorites with their master. At 
one time he had about 2000 of them in his differ- 
ent palaces. Each half-dozen had a keeper with a 
yearly salary of 200 crowns. They slept general- 
ly in a room adjoining to the royal bed-chamber, 
fitted up with baskets and cushions of green vel- 
vet. But now the divan breaks up. A notion has 
seized the King to have an hour or two's amuse- 
ment in the streets. The Chamberlain, the Chan- 
cellor, all the chief officers of State, are summoned 
to attend the King, and told the object of the sum- 
mons. Once more the services of the numerous 
valets are in requisition, and, all richly and fantas- 
tically dressed, the cortege issues from the gates of 
the Louvre. And now the eyes of the Parisians 
are greeted by the King and his chief councillors, 
each with cup and ball in hand, trying, as they 
marched along the streets, to rival one another in 
the management of the new and wonderful toy. 
His favorite buffoon is by Henry's side; but it 
needs no jester to make the scene ridiculous. Bursts 
of laughter break from the ranks of the performers, 
echoed by like laughter from the spectators, in 
which one's ear catches undernotes of pity, con- 
tempt, or scorn. But let them wait till to-morrow, 


and these Parisians shall see their King and his at- 
tendants marching through the streets in a very 
different guise and on a very different errand. 
Overnight the King is seized with one of his su- 
perstitious fits. On first entering France as King, 
Henry had headed at Avignon a procession of the 
sacred society of Flagellants, whose habit it was to 
perambulate the streets dressed in sackcloth, each 
member holding a torch or olive-branch in the one 
hand, and a scourge in the other, with which he 
flogged his neighbor as they marched. For three 
hours, in the depth of winter, under inclement 
skies, did Henry, bareheaded and clad like the rest 
of them, lead such a company through the streets 
of Avignon a procession that cost the great Car- 
dinal of Lorraine his life. Not content with re- 
peating the same in the streets of Paris, Henry in- 
stituted a new order of Penitents. And now at 
the head of this new order of his own, the King 
and the cup-and-ball players of yesterday are seen 
issuing on foot from the Monaster}- of the Augus- 
tinians to hold a Chapter of the Order in the ca- 
thedral of Notre Dame. Over the head of each 
penitent is drawn a sack of coarse canvas, with 
holes cut out for the eyes to look through, and long 
loose sleeves attached, the waist bound round with 
a hempen cord, from which a string of wooden 
beads, the rudest of rosaries, depends. Dressed 
thus, counting his beads, muttering his Paternos- 
ters and Ave Marias, scourged by his one neighbor, 


and scourging the other in his turn, the King of 
Prance is to be beheld on his way to prostrate him- 
self before the high altar at Notre Dame, to lie pros- 
trate there for hours. ~No wonder that all respect 
for royalty was well-nigh weeded out of the hearts 
of the Parisians. But with the folly of the Court 
there was vice vice that one chooses not to de- 
scribe ; and with the vice there was cruelty that 
heartless kind of cruelty with which licentiousness 
seems so naturally associated ; for these Mignons 
of the King were bullies too, as expert at the use 
of the sword as of the cup and ball : their bravery 
in part redeeming their effeminacy, and the strong 
attachment that they kindled in the breast of the 
King in part atoning for the follies and vices of 
their intercourse. Two of them fell once in a duel 
in which half-a-dozen of them were engaged, and 
the long and bitter agony of grief into which their 
death threw the King, tells us that a warm heart 
lay beneath that frivolous exterior. 

It could only have been over very calm waters 
and under very quiet skies that such a royal bark 
as Henry guided could have gone on in safety. 
Unfortunately for him there came a terrible tem- 
pest, a storm that swept over Europe, and the frail 
vessel was wrecked. The demon that stirred this 
storm was Philip II. of Spain. Guided by the 
greatest and best man of his age, the Netherlanders 
had risen to throw off the Spanish yoke. Philip 
resolved to quell the insurrection by not leaving a 


heretic alive in the Low Countries. Alva labored 
hard to realize his monarch's project. The heads 
of Horn and Egmont, and the lives of 18,000 lesser 
victims, were the offering that he laid at his mas- 
ter's feet. But still the Netherlander held out. 
England helped them, feebly yet openly, and they 
were helped, though clandestinely, by France. For 
the help so given Philip was resolved that both 
countries should feel the weight of his anger. With 
England it should be open war. The one great 
object of Philip's ambition the idol of that dark 
den in which he lived was to see a purely Romish 
and purely despotic policy dominant in Europe 
the Spanish monarchy its centre and chief support. 
To the furtherance of that scheme England and 
Elizabeth stood out as the greatest obstacle in the 
way England and Elizabeth must be crushed. 
To that first, and above all things, the efforts of the 
Spanish monarchy must be directed. So the scheme 
of the great Armada, of the invasion and conquest 
of this country, was devised. If France could not 
be got to help, she must be kept from hindering, by 
giving her enough to do in her own territories, 
by Spain employing there the same weapons that 
France had used against her in Holland. The 
spirit of intestine discord was to be secretly foster- 
ed, and at the proper stage effective help was to be 
given. That stage arrived when, on the loth June 
1584, the Duke of Alencon, Henry's ' younger 
brother, expired. Neither Francis II. nor Charles 


IX. had left any issue. Henry, the reigning mon- 
arch, was childless ; with him the race of Valois 
became extinct. The next heir to the French 
throne was the young King of Navarre. But he 
was a heretic, and a heretic on the throne of France 
what true Catholic could tolerate? Serious but 
secret negotiations had already been going on be- 
tween Philip and the house of Guise, the acknowl- 
edged head of the ultra-Catholic movement in 
France a movement that had lately taken more 
and more the form of direct opposition to the reign- 
ing monarch. So early as in 1576 a Holy League 
had been formed in Picardy, its members bound by 
signature and solemn oath, under penalty of for- 
feiture of goods and life, to strive to the uttermost 
for the entire suppression of heresy. This League, 
though originally confined to a single province, 
had taken deep root and spread widely over the 
country. It now took a new, a more definite, a 
more formidable shape. In the Castle of Joinville, 
one of the chateaus of the Guises, there is still 
shown the chamber in which there assembled, in 
January 1585, two commissioned delegates from 
Spain, the Dukes of Guise, Mayenne, Aumale, 
Elbceuf, and others. Secret articles were drawn 
up, and a solemn oath was taken, by which the 
Leaguers bound themselves to resist unto death all 
toleration of heresy by whomsoever sanctioned ; 
to labor in every way for its entire extirpation, and 
to oppose the accession of Henry of Navarre to the 


throne of France. The blow was aimed as well at 
the reigning monarch as at the heir-presumptive to 
the throne. As the direct if not the only effective 
way of gaining their ends, the Leagners, on prom- 
ise of help from Spain, resolved at the point of the 
sword either to compel Henry of Anjon to yield to 
their demands, or drive him from the throne, leav- 
ing the way to that throne temptingly open to the 
Duke of Guise himself. The standard of revolt 
was raised. A manifesto, setting forth the prin- 
ciples and objects of the League, appeared. All 
true Catholics were summoned to join it. To its 
deepest depths the spirit of religious fanaticism was 
stirred the pulpit, the confessional, every instru- 
ment that the priesthood possessed, was employed 
to inflame the public mind. Large bodies of 
troops hastily assembled, and never did persecuted 
Huguenots rise to defend their lives and liberties 
with greater enthusiasm than did these heated ad- 
herents of Rome rise now to follow the young 
Duke of Guise as he embarked in this new crusade 
against heresy. The means were not wanting for 
Henry to have met and braved the rising storm, 
but the spirit was. Instead of throwing himself 
upon the support of the Montmorencys and the 
Huguenots, he bent ingloriously before the Guises, 
and on the 7th July 1 585 he signed the celebrated 
Treaty of ^Nemours, by which all profession as well 
as all exercise of the Reformed faith in France was 
forbidden upon pain of death one month given 


to Huguenot ministers, six to the people, within 
which they must abjure or emigrate. 

When Henry of Navarre first heard the fatal 
tidings he bent his head upon his hand and was 
silent. For a moment he imagined that all was 
lost. " Unhappy France," he at last exclaimed, " I 
can then do nothing for you ! " A courier from 
the Marshal Montmorency restored his courage. 
Traced hastily on the paper were the words, " Sire, 
I have seen the Treaty of Nemours. The King of 
France and the King of Spain wish to gain me ; but 
I am yours, with my brothers and my army." The 
heart of Navarre revived. Knowing well where 
the heart and soul of the League lay, he sent off" a 
cartel to the Duke of Guise, challenging him to 
single combat a challenge that was courteously 
declined. The revenues of the kingdom of Navarre 
were but limited, ill-fitted to sustain such a war as 
seemed now impending ; but Henry had other re- 
sources to draw upon. Coming out one day at 
Nerac from a meeting of his Council, in which his 
lack of funds had been brought fully out by Sully, 
taking his future great minister of finance aside, 
Henry said to him, " Baron of Eosny, it is not 
enough to speak well ; we must act better. Are 
you not resolved that we shall die together ? It is 
no time then to be frugal. All men of honor must 
venture now one-half of their estate to save the 
other." "No, no, Sire," said Rosny, " we shall not 
die together ; we shall live together. I have still a 


wood that will produce 100,000 francs, and all shall 
be employed upon this occasion." At the close of 
the conversation, on parting with Sully, Henry said, 
" "Well, my friend, return to your country, be dili- 
gent, bring as many friends with you as you can," 
with an arch smile adding, " and do not forget your 
forest of high trees." If Henry had the happy art 
of making others generous, he was as generous him- 
self. The six months of grace at first allowed to 
the Huguenots, when it was seen that Montmo- 
rency and Navarre were resolved to have recourse 
to arms, was reduced to fifteen days. Many, 
whose goods were confiscated, and whose lives 
were in imminent peril, fled to Beam. Henry 
gave them all he had to give. " As to us," said he 
gayly to his soldiers, " we shall go and find our liv- 
ing in the camp of the League." 

But before he and the Leaguers met in arms 
Henry had to face another foe. Sixtus V. ful- 
minated against him a Papal Bull, in which, as a 
relapsed heretic, he was declared incapable of all 
succession, excommunicated, and dethroned, his 
subjects released from all allegiance ; all who recog- 
nized him in any way as a sovereign threatened 
with the heaviest penalties of the Church. One 
morning, soon after this Bull was promulgated, the 
eyes of the inhabitants of Home were greeted with 
large placards, stuck upon the walls of their streets, 
on the doors of their Churches, one seen even fasten- 
ed to the gateway of the Vatican. It was Henry's 


answer to the Papal Bull. One sentence tells the 
spirit of the whole. " And in that which touches 
the crime of heresy, of which the King of Na- 
varre is falsely accused, he says and maintains, that 
Sixtus, calling himself Pope, hath falsely and ma- 
liciously lied, and that he is himself a heretic, as 
shall be made manifest in full council, freely and 
lawfully assembled." The Pope's first feeling on 
hearing of these placards was that of astonishment 
and rage. He could not however but secretly ad- 
mire the vigor that gave stroke for stroke in such 
a way as this ; this admiration grew as he followed 
Henry's after steps, so that he was heard one day to 
declare, that of all the monarchs of Europe there 
were but two whom, if they had not been heretics, 
he could entirely trust, Elizabeth of England and 
Henry of Navarre. 

To give time for the foreign succors to arrive, 
Henry resolved to attempt no great enterprise at 
first. He retained with himself in Gascony a small 
body of veteran soldiers, lightly armed, accustomed 
to fatigue, and wholly without baggage. Aware 
that he was so slenderly attended, Mayenne and 
Matignan, with two royal armies, closed upon and 
hemmed him in, till his position between the Ga- 
ronne and the Pyrenees became perilous in the ex- 
treme ; so much so, that Mayenne wrote to his 
friends in Paris that it was impossible he could es- 
cape. Henry however, in the mean time, was writ- 
ing to his friends in quite a different strain. Hav- 

hexrt m. 221 

ing resolved to find or force a way through May- 
enne's posts, he writes to De Batz, one of the friends 
he wished to join him in the enterprise, " Monsieur, 
they have surrounded me like a beast of the chase, 
and think that they will take me by the net. For 
my part, I intend to pass through them or over 
them. I have chosen my good men, and one of 
them is my mower. My mower, put wings to 
your best beast. I have told Montespan that he 
will have to break the wind of liis why ? Thou 
shalt know at Xerac. Hurry, ran, come, fly ; such 
is the order of your master and the prayer of your 
friend, Henry." When he got his mower and 
other friends around him, Henry left INerac, fol- 
lowed by about 200 horse. As they approached 
the enemy's lines he divided his little band into still 
smaller companies. Twenty chosen men he kept 
beside himself. Assigning to all a rendezvous on 
the opposite side of the Garonne, as the sun went 
down he took a by-path through the woods and 
heaths, well known to him by his having often 
hunted there, crossed the river, rode all night 
through the enemy's quarters, quite close to them at 
times, reached St. Foy, the appointed place of meet- 
ing, two hours before day had fully broken, and 
had the happiness to meet there all the rest of the 
200, not a single mishap nor loss having occurred. 
Henry now took up his head-quarters at Ro- 
chelle. Again and again the King of France, writh- 
ing under the heavy pressure of the League, had en- 


treated liim to change his faith, assuring him in 
that case of the succession. Henry steadily at this 
time resisted every proposal of the kind as one that 
it would be hurtful to his honor even to entertain. 
He consented, however, to have a personal inter- 
view with Catherine de Medicis, who came to St. 
Bris, December 15th, 1586, attended by her maids 
of lion or, that flying squadron, as it was called, by 
which so many of her intrigues were conducted, and 
not a few of her political conquests had so inglori- 
ously been gained. No little alarm was felt among 
the Huguenots when it was known that this inter- 
view was to take place. The alarm turned out to 
be groundless. Henry knew thoroughly with whom 
he had to do. In serious argument Catherine found 
in him her match, in lighter repartee her superior. 
" Is all this trouble, then," said she to him at last, 
" to bear no fruit ? will you give us no repose ? " 
" Madame," said Henry, " I am not to blame. It is 
not I who keep you from sleeping in your bed. It 
is you who keep me from sleeping in mine." " Shall 
I always, then, be kept in trouble ! " exclaimed the 
Queen ; " I, who desire nothing so much as repose ? " 
" Oh ! Madame," said Henry gayly, " the trouble 
you take does you infinite good. You could not live 
if you were in repose." " What is there," at last 
said the Queen, somewhat petulantly, " what is it 
that you would have ? " " Nothing that you have 
here," said Henry, casting a glance at the flying 
squadron, a sarcasm coarse but merited. The con- 

HEXBY m. i fl ft 

ferenee came to nothing. The last effort of the 
arch intriguer failed. It was for the sword alone to 
decide the issue. 

The war, called from the three leading actors in 
it the War of the Three Henrys, now opened in 
earnest. Seven powerful armies were marshalled on 
the part of the King of France and the League. The 
Huguenots were weak in numbers, but strong in the 
quality of their troops. An immense body of Ger- 
man Setter had been enrolled to act as an auxiliary 
force, and for some time had been hovering on the 
frontiers. Hearing that at last they had entered 
France, Henry of Navarre set out from Rochelle to 
effect a junction with them. The Duke of Joyeuse, 
one of the French King's chief favorites, who had 
the charge of the army that occupied the midland 
counties, resolved to prevent their junction. By a 
rapid movement he succeeded in crossing the line of 
Henry's march and forcing him into action. The 
two armies came in front of each other on a plain near 
the village of Coutras, on the 19th of October 1587. 
The Eovalist army numbered from 10,000 to 12,000, 
the Huguenot from 6000 to 7000 the usual dis- 
parity in numbers ; but Henry's skilful disposition 
did more than compensate for his numerical in- 
feriority. He had only three pieces of cannon, but 
they were planted so that when they opened lire 
upon the crowded ranks of the enemy, from twelve 
to twenty men were carried away by each discharge, 
while the heavy guns of the Royalists did little or 


no execution. A body of light cavalry was thrown 
out in advance to meet the first shock of the ene- 
my's assault. Behind this, squadrons of heavy cav- 
alry were drawn up, interspersed with companies 
of musketeers, five men deep, the front rank in- 
structed to kneel, so that the whole might fire at 
once, the order issued being that no trigger was to 
be drawn till the enemy was within twenty yards. 
His ground well chosen, and his men well placed, 
Henry waited the approach of the Royal army. It 
was a dazzling sight that struck the eyes of the 
Huguenots, as, about eight o'clock on the morning 
of the 20th, that army spread itself out in battle- 
array before them, glittering helmets, nodding 
plumes, doublets of silk and velvet, scarfs and ban- 
nerets of all brilliant colors, embroidered with 
gold and silver, floating from shoulder and from 
lance-head. As he stood gazing on a battalion of 
1200 lances, the whole front rank of which consist- 
ed of nobles, some one called Henry's attention to 
the brilliancy of their arms. " We shall have all 
the better aim at them," said he, " when the fight 
begins." The Huguenots now fell upon their 
knees. There was stillness in the ranks as pray- 
er was offered up. " What are they doing ? " 
said Joyeuse to one of his officers, as he looked upon 
their cowering ranks of ill-clad, dingy-looking men. 
" They kneel they are afraid." " Don't think 
so," said the officer, who had fought once in their 
ranks ; " they are never so terrible as after pray- 

HENRY in. 225 

er." At that moment the kneeling ranks all rose, 
and there pealed out the first verse of one of Ma- 
rot's psalms. Henry now passed along the ranks, 
dropping words as he went by that fired all hearts. 
The first charge of the Royalists was now made. 
The shock was so severe that the light cavalry of 
the Huguenots gave way, and was driven back 
through the centre of the line upon the village of 
Coutras. Confident in his numbers, anticipating- 
nothing but victory, thinking indeed that victory 
was already his, Joyense gave orders to his whole 
line to charge. The order was impetuously obey- 
ed; but they had half a mile and more to cross 
before they closed with the enemy. Their horses 
got blown. Their ranks got into confusion as 
they so hurriedly advanced. An eagle eye was on 
them from the moment they began to move. 
Henry pressed the white-plumed helmet firmly on 
his head, waited till the distance between the ranks 
was scarce more than twenty yards, then at his 
command the deadly volley of the musketeers was 
given, and following the white plume as it dashed 
on in front, the veterans of Jamac and Moncon- 
tour flung themselves upon the foe. The glitter- 
ing but now divided ranks went down before them 
as the corn does at the stroke of the reaper. The 
struggle lasted but an hour, yet within that hour 
the Catholic army lost 3000 men, more than 400 of 
whom were members of the first families in the 
kingdom ; 3000 men were made prisoners. Not 


more than a third part of their entire army escaped. 
The Huguenots lost only about 200 men. All 
through that bloody hour Henry was fighting hand 
to hand. Some of his attendants threw themselves 
before him at the very first to break the shock of 
the enemy. " Make way there ! " cried Henry ; 
" give room ; you stifle me ; I would be seen ! " 
Not even in the thick of such a savage butchery 
as that hour at Coutras did Henry's unquenchable 
gayety forsake him. "Yield thee, Philistine, 
yield ! " he shouted to a Roman Catholic officer he 
laid hold of, having just shot with his pistol anoth- 
er who had come to his rescue. And when the vic- 
tory was clearly won, he did every thing he could 
to stop the carnage. "When told that Joyeuse him- 
self had fallen, he showed the tenderest concern at 
his fate, and had his body borne to a hall in the 
neighboring castle of Coutras. He went there him- 
self to see it, and putting back the long fair hair, 
all dabbled with blood, with his own hand, that he 
might gaze upon the face of the dead, tears drop- 
ped upon the blood. He gave orders that the body 
should be embalmed and borne to Paris, to be de- 
livered to the relatives of the deceased. His mod- 
eration of spirit was equally remarkable. He ex- 
pressed no triumph as prisoner after prisoner of 
noble birth, as banner after banner, was brought 
into tbe hall where he sat at supper. Eighty-four 
ensigns taken from the enemy were floating around 
him. When some one asked him what terms of 


peace after a victory so signal he would demand, 
" The same," said he, " as at first." Before night 
fell he wrote a few lines to the French King, which 
run thus : " Sire, my Lord and Brother, Thank 
God, I have beaten your enemies and your army." 
It was but too true that the poor King's worst ene- 
mies were to be found in the very armies that were 
marshalled in his name. 

Whilst Henry of Navarre gathered laurels from 
his victory at Coutras, scarce less renown, though 
won less worthily, accrued to Henry Duke of Guise 
from the victories obtained by him over the Ger- 
man confederates, whom he succeeded in chasing 
out of France. Birth, nature, education, surround- 
ing circumstances, all conspired to mould the Duke 
of Guise into the great chief of a faction. He was 
the head of a family that in point of political posi- 
tion and power was inferior only to that of the 
Princes of the blood, and in point of wealth had 
added to its own patrimonial resources the reve- 
nues of fifteen bishoprics and of five provincial 
governments. His tall commanding figure, his 
light flowing hair, his lively piercing eyes, his face, 
which a wound got in battle marked without dis- 
figuring (bestowing on him the epithet of le Bala- 
fre), were all gazed on with admiration by the mul- 
titude. In all military exercises he was unrivalled. 
He was seen once to swim against the current of a 
stream clad in complete armor. "Without either the 
military genius of the ono or the political talent of 


the other, he added the address of his uncle the Car- 
dinal to the bravery of his father the Duke. Though 
never displaying the skill of a great commander, 
he was the dashing and gallant leader of many a 
military enterprise where prompt decision and un- 
flinching courage were displayed. Ready to share 
with his soldiers all the perils of war, he was as 
ready to share with them its honors and rewards. 
An artist is represented as having painted his por- 
trait, and on being asked why lie had not planted 
a wreath of laurels on the brow " Because," he 
said, " the Duke would have plucked them off and 
distributed them among his companions in arms." 
The courtesy of his manners, especially to his in- 
feriors in rank, was complete. Reserved to those 
immediately around him, seldom indeed admitting 
them to his confidence, often alienated in this way 
from the members of his own family, he would 
cross the street hat in hand to hail some acquaint- 
ance of low degree. He had an eye that never 
failed in the most crowded companies to notice all 
whom it became him to salute, and the grace of 
his recognition and conversation was such that al 
felt delighted and honored by them. Old family 
alliances, the sincerity and zeal of his own attach- 
ment to the Roman Catholic religion, and his 
consistent devotedness to the interests of the 
Church, placed him now at the head of the Catholic 
party, and made him the idol and main pillar of 
the League. At Paris especially his popularity 


outran all bounds. The King had done really 
more to rid France of the Swiss and Germans, but 
in the eyes of the Parisians the Duke carried off 
the main share of glory. " Saul," they chanted 
through the streets, " has slain his thousands, but 
David his tens of thousands." Already he had 
obliged the King to issue the edict of Nemours r . 
and now still further demands were made, the 
effect of granting which would be the virtual trans- 
fer of the chief authority in the State from the 
sovereign to the subject. The King felt bitterly 
the humiliation, but wanted the courage, perhaps 
the power, at once openly and peremptorily to 
refuse compliance. Whatever were the Duke's own 
ultimate designs, there can be no doubt that the 
bigoted Parisians, inflamed at this time almost to 
madness by all kinds of ecclesiastical stimulants, 
meant to dethrone Henry of Anjou and plant the 
crown on the Duke's brow. Three times in the 
course of this winter (1587-88) schemes were con- 
cocted for seizing the King's person, and consign- 
ing him for life to a monastery, schemes that 
failed only in consequence of information conveyed 
secretly by Nicholas Poullain to the King. Alarm- 
ed at last as to his position, which grew daily 
more perilous, the King sent for 2000 Swiss, and 
had them stationed in the immediate neighborhood 
of Paris. The Leaguers, with Paris now thoroughly 
organized at their command, sent for the Duke of 
Guise. Henry heard of it, and despatched message 


after message interdicting his approach. In defiance 
the Duke entered the city (on Monday, the 9th of 
May 1588). Accompanied by the Queen-mother he 
went, in the first instance, unarmed and unattended, 
to pay his respects to Henry in the Louvre. They 
found the entrance to the Palace strictly guarded, 
and passed in through ranks of frowning soldiers, 
whose captain scarce returned the Duke's salute. 
The King had for the moment opened his ear to 
those councillors who advised that if Guise ven- 
tured into the royal presence he should not leave 
it alive. In the audience-chamber Catherine's quick 
eye soon saw that some deed of violence was med- 
itated. She laid her hand, weakened now with age, 
but still strong enough to control him, upon her son, 
and, after a stormy interview, Guise was permitted 
to leave the palace untouched. Feeling the im- 
minence of his peril he threw himself upon the 
city for protection. Paris was at this time filled 
with strangers, partisans of the League, many of 
them men of desperate fortune, fitted for any deed. 
Next day the King issued a royal edict, command- 
ing all such to depart within twenty-four hours. 
Officers were despatched to make domiciliary visits 
throughout the city, and to see that this edict was 
carried out. These officers returned to the Palace 
with the information that they had been ill treated 
in the execution of their office by the citizens, and 
that the Royal edict had fallen powerless to the 
ground. Henry now resolved it should be obeyed, 


and the troops outside the town were ordered to 
enter. The intelligence of their coming spread 
like wildfire through the city. The wildest ru- 
mors were set afloat : Guise and others were to 
be beheaded the city was to be sacked Navarre 
and the Huguenots to be called in to the King's 
help. As the Swiss entered, and in scattered de- 
tachments marched to the different posts allotted 
to them, infuriated crowds followed and closed in 
upon them. At the ends of the streets and the 
openings of the squares they occupied, strong barri- 
cades began to rise, the first appearance of that 
powerful instrument of city warfare with which the 
streets of Paris were destined in after times to be 
so familiar. The troops were cut off thus in sec- 
tions from one another. Their officers sent for 
orders to the Palace. If allowed to charge before 
these barricades were completed, and before the full 
force of the city was called out, the outbreak might 
still be quelled. The King sent strict orders to act 
solely on the defensive, and not to fire upon the 
people. There then for hours they stood, whilst 
thousands of well-armed men swarmed out from 
every purlieu of a city that was now in the full 
tide of revolution. Some of the more moderate 
Leaguers went to the palace, entreated the King to 
withdraw the troops. He would not consent. He 
vainly thought that their simple presence would 
awe the wild community into submission. It had 
just the opposite effect. It stirred them into in- 


tenser and intenser hate. It needed but a chance 
collision for the bloodshed to begin. The soldiers 
acting at such disadvantage had no chance against 
such odds. They were speedily overpowered. " I 
have defeated the Swiss," wrote the Duke in a cir- 
cular he sent off by hundreds to the provinces, " cut 
to pieces the greater part of the King's guard, and 
I now hold the Louvre so closely besieged that you 
may be certain I will render good account of all 
whom it contains." Nevertheless the Duke had nev- 
er appeared as the leader of the insurrection, but had 
kept quiet all the time within his own hotel, 
giving it to be understood at the Palace that it was 
not his doing. But now his triumph was complete. 
Had the street conflict continued much longer, every 
man of the Swiss must have perished. The King 
submitted to the humiliation of sending to Guise, re- 
questing him to interfere and open a way for their 
retreat. And now the Duke went forth unarmed 
from his hotel. At his bidding the firing ceased ; 
openings through the barricades were made for 
them ; the Swiss were saved. But the King him- 
self was still in danger. Barricade after barricade 
had been pushed on closer and closer to the 
Louvre, and the mob was* in no mood to stop. 
It was the hand of the Duke alone that could hold 
them back. Would he do it? Henry would not 
stoop to ask the question, but the Queen-mother 
went to the Duke to learn upon what terms an ac- 
commodation between him and the King might 


be adjusted. They were too high, too haughtily 
insisted on, for even Catherine, friend as she was 
of Guise, to ask her son to accept. There was but 
one opening for Henry left instant, though it 
were ignominious, flight. The gates of the city 
were guarded, all but one behind the Palace, which 
somehow or other the Leaguers had overlooked, 
though strangely enough the orders had been is- 
sued that it should be done that very night. Having 
arranged all with her son, the Queen-mother went 
a second time to see the Duke. She found him as 
inexorable as ever. Turning to an attendant, under 
pretext of sending him to obtain unlimited power 
from the King for her to treat with Guise, Cath- 
erine sent by him the preconcerted signal upon 
which Henry was instantly to act. Turning back 
again to the Duke, she took up in turn his propo- 
sals, dwelling at great length on each, arguing each 
point with the utmost coolness. Some hours had 
passed when a friend of the Duke rushed into the 
apartment and whispered a few hurried words into 
his ear. " Madame," exclaimed he, starting to his feet 
in the utmost excitement, " you have betrayed me. 
The King has quitted Paris. I am lost, for his 
Majesty will be more my enemy than ever." Cathe- 
rine feigned surprise and incredulity. To ascer- 
tain, as she represented, whether there was any 
truth in the report, she hurried to the Palace. The 
King was gone. The day of the Barricades, as it 
was called, was over, and both the great actors in 


the drama had failed : the King in taking advan- 
tage of the opportunity, which he undoubtedly at 
first possessed, for preventing or crushing the out- 
break ; the Duke in suffering the King's escape, 
and with the chance of getting him wholly into his 

Burning with indignation, Henry fled to Char- 
tres. Many an anxious glance was cast by him at 
that only quarter from which effective help could 
come ; but he could not as yet bring his mind to 
enter into any compact or association with heretics. 
A fresh terror fell upon his spirit. Philip of Spain 
had some months before communicated privately 
to the Duke of Guise that the time for his break- 
ing openly with his monarch had now come, and 
that if he did it promptly and vigorously all need- 
ful help in men and money would come from 
Spain. Guise was leaning upon that promise when 
he urged the Parisians to revolt, and Philip was 
leaning upon that revolt when he launched his great 
Armada against England; and those 150 stately 
ships, with their crowded crews, were coasting along 
the shores of France when Henry was invited once 
more to set himself right with the Leaguers. The 
Armada loosed from the ports of Spain on the 29th 
May 1588, and in the month of July, before its fate 
was sealed and England rescued, Henry signed an 
edict by which he placed himself once more at the 
head of the League announcing it to be his purpose 
to prosecute to the last extremity the war against 


the Huguenots, and declared the King of !Navarre, 
as a heretic, incapable of the succession. The 
Estates of the Kingdom were at the same time 
summoned to meet at Blois in October. The heavy 
price at which Guise's renewed friendship was thus 
purchased rendered the Duke more odious than ever 
in the King's eyes. The meeting of the States- 
General was opened by a speech from the Throne. 
Henry at last had risen to a full comprehension of 
his position, and resolved to make a final effort to 
save at once his person and his throne. He had a 
great talent for public speaking. That talent he 
now exerted to the uttermost. " I know not," says 
Hanke, " that ever a French King delivered a more 
remarkable discourse than that with which Henry 
opened these Estates." He went as far in his con- 
cessions as a monarch could be expected to go. But 
it was in vain. The League had packed the assembly. 
It was the Duke, not Henry, who was sovereign 
there. The whole assembly indeed united with the 
King in taking a solemn oath that the edict of 
Union lately issued from the throne should be 
obeyed. Bnt that was the first and only act. in 
which the King and the Estates agreed. He was 
willing to declare Henry of Xavarre incapable of 
succession so long as he remained a heretic ; but 
they demanded that he should be instantly, ab- 
solutely and forever excluded and that upon the 
extreme and extraordinary ground that for a king 
even to tolerate heresy was to nullify his title. 


Henry resisted a demand that would have cut 
away his own title from beneath his feet. He 
was ready to consent that every measure of the 
Government should in the first instance be sub- 
mitted to the Estates, and after adoption by them, 
and approval of his Council, should be acted 
on. They demanded that their decisions should 
at once, and without right of revisal anywhere, 
become law. Henry desired that some adequate 
provision should be made for the maintenance 
of the Royal household. He was at the time 
in abject poverty the wages of his servants, 
the pay of his guards, in large arrears. Con- 
fessing freely his former extravagances, he an- 
nounced it to be his purpose to reduce his expendi- 
ture to the lowest point- possible. He showed 
them the elothes he wore, and told them how long 
he meant to make them last. If two capons were 
too much for the royal table, he would be content, 
he said, with one. He stooped even to make a 
personal appeal on this matter to the generosity of 
the Duke. The States turned a deaf ear to all his 
entreaties, and resolved, instead of increasing, to 
reduce the royal revenue. The appeal to the Duke 
was equally fruitless. Hope and patience were ex- 
hausted, and now there burst forth the long and 
pent-up hate the thirst intense for vengeance. 
The rebellious Duke must die. 1 It confirmed the 

1 The deed was done against the advice of Catherine, who 
died a few days afterwards, having seen three of her sons 


Kins; in his purpose when, from his faithful friend 
Epernon, from the Duchess d' Aumale, from Guise's 
own brother, there came to him no ambiguous no- 
tification that his own liberty and life were in dan- 
ger from some new enterprise plotted by the Duke. 
Despairing of bringing him to justice by public 
trial,Henry resolved that Guise should be assassina- 
ted. The plan was coolly and skilfully contrived. 
A Council of State was summoned to meet at eight 
o'clock on the morning of the 23d December 1588. 
The hall in the Castle of Blois in which the mem- 
bers met communicated with the King's private 
cabinet ; a small anteroom and then a bedcham- 
ber lay between them. It was in one or other 
of these two apartments that the deed was to 
be done. Closely as the secret was kept, a terrible 
suspicion that an attempt on the life of their chief 
was meditated took possession of Guise's friends. 
On the 22d several anonymous notes were thrown 
upon his table, one of them bearing " Be on your 
guard ; a dangerous attempt is about to be made 
upon your life." The Duke took a pencil and 
wrote beneath "He dare not." A conference 
was held in his apartment. Some urged instant 
flight. The Duke demurred. " Affairs," said he, 
** are now in such a state, that if I saw death com- 
ing in by the window, I would not go out by the 
door." Schomberg, one of his truest friends, spoke 

successively fill the throne, and a fourth, as she died, ready 
to lose it 


to him of the peril of his position. " I do not 
know the man on earth," replied the Duke, " who, 
hand to hand with me, would not have more rea- 
son to fear than I." Nevertheless he resolved to 
leave Blois the next forenoon. That night he sup- 
ped in the apartments of Madame de Noirmoutiers. 
No less than five notes of warning were handed to 
him while at supper he thrust them all beneath 
the couch, repeating always, " He dare not." On 
retiring to his own apartment at three o'clock in 
the morning, he was surprised to find his uncle 
there, who had crept into the room in the dark to 
give him his last warning. He turned it off with 
the accustomed speech " He dare not." His con- 
tempt of Henry blinded him to the last. It was a 
cold, dark, dismal morning (on the 23d), the rain 
was pouring in torrents, when, between five 
and six o'clock, the King's body-guard of for- 
ty-five whose captain was alone privy to what 
was to be done stole gently, man by man, up 
a secret staircase, and found themselves in the 
presence of the King. A few nobles, whom he 
could entirely trust, assembled at the same time in 
the royal cabinet. To both Henry addressed a few 
emphatic words. " This day," said he to the mem- 
bers of his guard, " is destined to be the last of my 
life or that of the Duke of Guise. It is for you to 
decide whether he shall perish or your master be 
the victim." The answer was all that Henry could 
have wished. Eight out of the forty-five, who had 


daggers as well as swords, were then stationed in 
the antechamber, and to them the execution of the 
deed of blood was committed. So soon as he 
learned that Guise was in the Hall of Council, 
Henry sent his valet to summon him to a private 
interview in the royal cabinet. The Duke, who 
was standing warming himself at the fire, on get- 
ting the message hastily gathered his cloak around 
him, and, with a gracious salute to the other mem- 
bers of the Council, passed into the anteroom. The 
dark and lowering countenances of the men station- 
ed there startled him as he crossed the floor ; he 
had turned round to look at them, and was lifting 
the tapestry to pass into the bedroom, when the 
eight flung themselves upon him. Arms and legs 
were grasped, and swords and daggers pierced him 
in different parts of his body. He was encumber- 
ed with his cloak, and could do nothing to defend 
himself. Yet such was his extraordinary strength, 
that he dragged the men that clung to him and 
were still stabbing at him, from one end of the 
chamber to the other, falling at last at the foot of 
the King's bed, where in a few minutes he expired. 
The news of the assassination reached Paris on 
the afternoon of the 24th December 1588. It was 
Christmas eve, and the people were gathered in 
the churches for the nocturnal services of the great 
Christian festival. A night consecrated by the tra- 
ditions of Christendom to cheerful joy was turned 
into one of gloom and mourning. The midnight 


and the morning masses were recited in the midst 
of a silence broken only by sobs and muffled im- 
precations. Grief quickly gave place to rage. 
The people rushed tumultuously from the churches, 
demanding vengeance on the murderer of the 
Duke. The statues of Henry III., the pictures of 
him in the churches, the royal arms suspended in 
different parts of the city, were cut down, were torn 
in pieces, were trampled under foot, or cast into the 
gutters. A fanatical priesthood guided and ruled 
the populace ; all kinds of means were taken to 
kindle into fury its enmity to the King. His name 
was dropped out of the public prayers. By day and 
by night, under priestly marshalling, vast proces- 
sions paraded through the streets ; 100,000 youths, 
each holding a lighted taper in his hand, assembled 
in the Cemetery of the Innocents, marched to the 
ancient Abby of Ste. Genevieve, stopped as they 
reached its portals, and dashing their tapers to the 
ground, exclaimed, as they quenched the flame, "So 
perish the race of Yalois ! " Preaching to a great 
multitude, Lincestre, one of the chief orators of the 
League, called upon his audience to take upon the 
spot a solemn oath that they would avenge to the 
last drop of their blood the death of their favorite. 
" Lift up your right hands," he said, " and swear." 
One man only hesitated. It was Harlay, the first 
President of the Parliament. " Lift up your hand, 
Monsieur le President," cried the excited preacher. 
Harlay hesitated, but partially obeyed. " Lift it 

HENRY ni. 241 

still higher ; lift it so high that every man may see 
it." The frightened President had to do as he was 
told. Paris, in fact, was for a time wholly nnder 
the dominion of that faction which had adopted the 
strange politico-ecclesiastical theory woven for the 
use of the League by the expert hands of the Jesuits, 
according to which the sovereign civil power (sub- 
ject, however, always to the Papacy) lay in the 
people, to whom pertained the right of electing and 
dethroning kings. And Paris acted now, as it has 
so often done, as the representative of the people of 
France. The Sorbonne issued its declaration that 
Henry had forfeited the throne, and that his subjects 
were released from their allegiance. The Parlia- 
ment of Paris adopted and ratified the declaration. 
The Council of Sixteen, under whom the general 
community was organized, proceeded as if the throne 
were vacant, and called upon the Duke of Mayenne 
to assume the supreme power, under the title of 
Lieutenant-Governor of France. The Dnke, after 
some hesitation, for he was a slow and cautious 
man, accepted the office. The spirit of Paris 
spread over the country. Henry had counted on 
the death of their chief quenching the spirit of the 
Leaguers ; instead of that, he heard only of new 
forms of opposition, new instances of resistance to 
his authority. In the north of France, town after 
town followed the lead of Paris, till at last a few 
cities upon the Loire were all that he could count 
upon. Week by week his position became more 


perilous. It was evident that his best, if not indeed 
his only, chance lay in effecting an alliance with 
Henry of Navarre, still in arms with his Huguenots 
in the south of France, bravely and successfully 
battling there against both Royalists and Leaguers. 
It was not an easy thing for the chief counsellor of 
the massacre of St. Bartholomew to make up his 
mind to this alliance. He tried, in fact, all that 
he could to avoid it. He made overture after 
overture to Mayenne ; but they were all indignant- 
ly repelled. The Duke was too confident, trust- 
ing to the support of all true Catholics in France, 
and encouraged to do so by the approving judg- 
ment of the Pope. Henry at last yielded to the 
advice of his wisest counsellors, and consented to 
receive Duplessis-Mornay as envoy from the King 
of Navarre. The Bearnese threw himself heartily 
and chivalrously into the King's cause. By a treaty 
signed 26th April 1589 he bound himself to employ 
the whole force at his command in his service. 
Leaving his army a day or two's march behind, 
he hastened forward, but slenderly attended, accept- 
ing an invitation from the King to visit him at 
Plessis-les-Tours. After years of separation and 
hostility the cousins met in the park of the Chateau. 
So great a crowd had filled the grounds, and so 
eagerly did they press in to witness the important 
interview, that for nearly half-an-hour the two 
Kings, though within a short distance of one an- 
other, were unable to effect a meeting. The way 

HENRY ni. 243 

at last was opened, and Henry of Bourbon bent the 
knee before Henry of Valois. The latter hastened 
to raise and to embrace him. The two Princes 
retired to the chateau for an interview, equally 
satisfactory to both. On retiring to his quarters 
that evening on the other side the Loire, Navarre 
wrote to his friend and counsellor Duplessis-Mor- 
nay : " At last the ice is broken, not without many 
warnings that if I came here I came to die. I 
have passed the water commending myself to God." 
" Sire," wrote Mornay in reply, " you have done 
what you ought to have done, but what none of us 
ought to have ventured to advise." Next morning 
at 6ix o'clock, without mentioning his purpose to 
any one, on foot, and attended by a single page, the 
King of Navarre crossed the river, entered the 
chateau, and surprised the French King in his bed. 
The frankness, the heartiness, the confidingness of 
the Bearnese Prince dispelled all clouds of doubt 
from Henry's mind. All was concerted for the cam- 
paign as projected by the warrior-Prince. Navarre 
returned to his army, but he had scarce reached 
the camp when intelligence was brought of a bold 
attempt of Mayenne's to surprise and seize upon 
the King. Navarre hurried instantly to the scene. 
But he came too late. A band of his own gallant 
Huguenots under Chatillon had rendered good ser- 
vice in repelling the night assault of the Leaguers, 
and, alarmed at the very sight of the white scarfs, 
Mayenne had given up the attempt and had re- 


tired. "Yentre St. Gris!" exclaimed the King 
of Navarre, as, booted and spurred, and covered 
with mud, having been on horseback from day- 
break, lie burst into the royal presence, "had I 
been here he would have decamped after a different 
fashion. The armies of the two Kings united and 
advanced upon Paris. On their route they learned 
that the Pope had fulminated the thunders of an 
excommunication against the French monarch. 
The weak spirit of Henry of Yalois quailed for the 
time beneath the stroke. For two days he refused 
all nourishment ; he fancied for the moment that 
all good Catholics would shun him as one sus- 
pected with the leprosy. However, Navarre was be- 
side to cheer him up. " My brother," said he gayly, 
" the bolts of Pome don't touch Kings when they 
conquer. I know an asylum where you will be safe 
enough from their stroke in Paris. To-morrow 
from St. Cloud I will show you that ungrateful city, 
and will crush it with bolts of even greater power 
than those of Pome." On the evening of Saturday 
the 30th July the allied army, swelled to the num- 
ber of from 35,000 to 40,000, sat down before the 
capital. Mayenne had sent more than 9000 regular 
troops with which to conduct the defence. The 
assault was fixed for Tuesday the 2d August. The 
doom of the capital seemed sealed. Its only hope 
lay in the fanatical courage of its inhabitants. The 
Pope's recent Bull had put into the hands of the 
priestly haranguers a new instrument of excite- 


ment. The -wildest projects were openly an 
nounced and encouraged. In the course of one of 
his frantic tiades from the pulpit, Lincestre held 
up to the people a little chandelier that had once, 
he said, been the King's, around which there were 
moulded figures of satyrs. " See," said he, point- 
ing to these strange figures, " these are the demons 
of the King, these are the gods he worships, the 
instruments of his enchantment. Would it be 
lawful to kill such a tyrant ? For myself, I would 
be quite ready to do it at any moment of my life, 
save that in which I am consecrating the Body of 
the Lord." Among those whom harangues like this 
excited was a Dominican monk, Jacques Clement, 
young, ignorant, superstitious, imaginative, pas- 
sionate, who had been a soldier before he became 
a monk, who as a monk had been guilty of a scan- 
dal that brought disgrace upon his convent, and 
who had been taught that so great a sin as his could 
be expiated alone by some great act of sen-ice ren- 
dered to the Church. The idea seized him that 
that great act would be the ridding France and 
the world of Henry of Yalois. His 'only scruple 
was about his office. He asked the superior of 
his convent if it would be a mortal sin in a priest 
to kill a tyrant. He was told it would only be an 
irregularity. The Duchess of Montpensier, the 
sister of the murdered Duke of Guise, heard of and 
sent for the young Dominican. He told her that 
for three nights running an angel had appeared to 


him, and said, " Brother Jacques, I am a messen- 
ger from the Almighty come to assure you that by 
your hands the tyrant of France must be put to 
death. The crown of martyrdom is prepared for 
you." The blandishments and promises of the 
beautiful Duchess were not less powerful than the 
words of the angel. The monk bought a knife and 
bathed it in what he believed to be a decoction of 
poisonous herbs. Getting access to the Bastile 
where many of the Royalists lay imprisoned, he in- 
troduced himself to the brother-in-law of Epernon, 
the King's great favorite, and by playing the part 
of a Royalist got a passport to carry him through 
the Royal army. A letter in his favor to the King, 
in which the handwriting of the first President of 
the Parliament was so well imitated that, after the 
keenest scrutiny, it escaped detection, was put into 
his hands. Prepared thus, he set forth from the 
city on the forenoon of Sunday the 31st, the very 
day that the King reached St. Cloud. On the way 
he was overtaken by the King's Attorney-General, 
M. La Guesle, to whom he showed his credentials, 
stating that he had a communication of the utmost 
moment to make to the King from his friends in 
the city. La Guesle offered to be the medium of 
its conveyance. Jacques quietly but resolutely de- 
clined. He must see the King himself. The At- 
torney-General carefully inspected the credentials ; 
he could detect no flaw. The severest cross-exami- 
nation of Jacques himself afforded no ground of 


suspicion. Taking him to his own residence, La 
Guesle went instantly on his arrival at St. Cloud to 
Henry himself, and told him of the young monk and 
his errand. The King commanded him to be brought 
to him next morning. Jacques supped with the ser- 
vants of the Attorney-General, cutting his bread 
with the knife that he carried, and gibed by them for 
knowing: the use of his knife better than that of 
his breviary. He slept so soundly that they had 
to waken him next morning to take him to the 
King. Henry was sitting half-dressed in his closet 
when it was told him that the young monk stood 
without waiting an audience. The King looked 
over the credentials he had brought, and desired 
him to be introduced. " My brother," said Henry 
to him as he entered, " you are welcome. What is 
the news in Paris ? " Clement craved permission 
to speak to him alone. The officers of the bed- 
chamber resented the proposal, and bade the monk 
go on and say out all he had to say, for none but 
the friends of the King were in the room. Clement 
hesitated. The King then ordered those around 
him to retire for a moment or two. Clement put 
a letter into his hand. The King's eye was fixed 
upon the page, when, snatching his knife out from 
his sleeve, the monk plunged it to its hilt into the 
body of the King. Henry seized the handle, which 
the assassin had let go, drew out the knife, and 
struck Clement with it on the face. "Ah, my 
God," he cried, "that wicked monk has killed 


me ! " At the cry the attendants rushed into the 
apartment. Seeing at once how the matter stood, 
they passed their swords through the assassin, leav- 
ing only a mutilated corpse to be dealt with by 
the public executioner. The bleeding monarch 
was laid back upon his bed. At first but little pain 
was felt, and it was thought he might recover. 
The hope had soon to be relinquished. At the 
first tidings of the disaster Henry hurried to the 
lodgings of the King. He was most affectionately 
received. The King spoke to him as the legitimate 
heir to the Crown ; but exhorted him, as he re- 
garded his safety in the next world and his position 
in this, to change his religion. Addressing himself 
to the courtiers, many of them in high office, who 
filled the chamber, " I entreat you as my friends," 
he said, " and as your King I command, that after 
my death you recognize my brother here as my 
successor." He then invited them to take the 
oath of allegiance to Navarre in his presence, which 
they did. The rest of the day was given up to the 
exercises of devotion. Between two and three 
o'clock next morning the King expired the last 
of a family which gave thirteen Kings to France, 
whose reigns extended over a period of 261 years. 

HENRY IV. 249 


HENRY IV., 1589-1593. 

Acknowledgment of title. Arrangement with the Catholic 
Lords. Their desertion. The battle of Arques. Siege of 
Paris. Relief of the city. Siege of Rouen. Adventure of 
the King. Triumph of Parma. Abjuration of Henry IV. 

A short time after the King breathed his last, 
Henry of Navarre entered the chamber of the 
dead. An ominous reception was given to him. 
Hats that should have been raised were pressed 
down upon the brow, hands that should have been 
held out were drawn back, voices that should have 
saluted him as Kino- he heard muttering " rather 
die a thousand deaths ! " It was a critical moment 
in the history of this great Prince. The slightest 
hesitation on his part might have proved fatal. 
But he assumed at once, and exercised, all the pre- 
rogatives of royalty. The Catholic nobles and 
courtiers retired to deliberate. They were all 
ready to acknowledge the legitimacy of his title as 
next by birth in the order of succession ; but in the 
opinion of nearly all of them his faith as a Calvinist 
disqualified for the occupancy of the throne. It 
was resolved that they should tender their allegi- 


ance to him on condition of his immediate adop- 
tion of the Roman Catholic religion. Hemy had 
always resisted the attempt to force upon him a 
change of faith. "I have been often summoned," 
he had said in a manifesto addressed to the Es- 
tates of France, and published three months be- 
fore this time, " to change my religion ; but how ? 
the dagger at my throat. If I had no respect 
to my conscience, my honor would have hindered 
it. What would the best Catholics say of me if, 
after having lived thirty years in one way, they 
saw me suddenly change my religion in hope 
of a kingdom ; and what would they say who 
have seen and tried my courage if I quitted basely 
through fear the form in which I have served God 
from the day of my birth ? No, gentlemen ; it will 
never be the King of Navarre who will do that, 
though he had thirty crowns to gain." His answer 
now to these Catholic lords was to the same effect. 
To expect from him, he said, so sudden a change of 
faith, was virtually to say he had no faith to change. 
He was ready, as he had always been, to abide by 
the decisions of a General Council ; and he was 
ready to give all possible guarantees that the 
rights and freedom of his Roman Catholic subjects 
should be protected, as indeed they had always been 
wherever his sway had extended. But he would go 
no further. Within an hour after Henry's death, he 
had directed that instant measures should be taken 
to gain the adhesion of the large body of Swiss auxili- 

HENRY IV. 251 

aries which formed part of the royal army. While 
he was yet disputing with the nobles and courtiers, 
the welcome intelligence arrived that the Swiss 
had engaged to remain in the new King's service. 
" Sire," said the gallant officer who brought the 
happy news to him, " you are the King of the brave, 
and none but cowards will abandon you." A night's 
reflection brought both parties a little nearer to one 
another, and the next day (Wednesday, August 3) 
the terms were settled upon which Henry's accession 
to the throne should be publicly recognized by the 
Catholic Royalists. Henry engaged to allow no 
further innovation in religion to preserve entire 
all the existing possessions and privileges of the Bo- 
man Catholic Church to withdraw the prohibition 
of its worship wherever it had been attempted to 
be enforced to commit the government of all such 
towns, fortresses, or provinces as should be con- 
quered, or should become vacant, except those ex- 
pressly reserved by former treaties, into the hands 
of Soman Catholics to call a meeting of the Es- 
tates-General within six months to submit to the 
decision of either a General or National Council in 
the matters of debate between the two religions, and 
meanwhile to offer himself for further instruction 
as to the tenets of the Church of Eome : as good 
a bargain as these Roman Catholic lords could well 
have hoped to make one indeed which trenched 
not a little upon the position which Henry hitherto 
had taken, and the principles of religious liberty and 


general toleration which he had professed. But 
though willing to go so far as to acknowledge in 
words the validity of Henry's title, these Catholic 
Royalists were not prepared to assist him in the 
deadly struggle with the Leaguers that lay before 
him ere that title was firmly and securely estab- 
lished. Two days after the decision of the King, the 
Duke d'Epernon asked leave to retire from the camp ; 
the example was followed by many others. In 
five days half of the Royal army was gone. Hen- 
ry saw at once that the siege of Paris must be 
given up. 

Before retiring from its walls, he issued an ad- 
dress to the nation, in which, referring to those 
who had deserted him, he said " Such persons 
doubtless hope by their conduct to compel me to 
abjure my religion. Let every man however as- 
sure himself that I esteem not the realm of France, 
nor even the empire of the whole world, sufficient 
to renounce my religion ; nor will I ever accept 
any other doctrine in lieu, unless such shall be 
confirmed and proposed by a General Council as I 
have before explained. You know that I am a 
good Frenchman, and that I have a sincere and 
true heart. I have been King of Navarre for 
seventeen years, and during that period I be- 
lieve that I have never violated my word. Con- 
sider, I pray you, how hard and unjust a thing it 
must appear to me this attempt on your part to 
coerce me on religious matters, when I, who am 

HENRY IV. 253 

your King and master, permit you to enjoy per- 
fect freedom of conscience. I appeal to you and 
to the nation. Meantime, I beg that each one 
of you will pray that Almighty God will enlight- 
en my conscience, direct my council, and bless my 

Breaking up that part of the army which still 
remained true to him into three divisions, Henry 
retired with one of them, not into the south of 
France, which would have been a giving up of the 
entire north into the hands of his enemies, but into 
Normandy. Learning this, and flushed with the 
advantages that the late chancre in the state of 
affairs had brought with it to his party. Mayenne 
imagined that the hour had come for driving Heu- 
ry from the French soil as an exile, or forcing him 
to surrender. So confident was he of success that 
the officers were named who were to post to Paris 
with the news of the capture. The windows were 
taken at a fabulous price in the Rue St. Antoine, 
along which the captive Huguenot was to be con- 
ducted. Lying in the neighborhood of Dieppe, 
Henry learned that an army of 30,000 men was on 
its march to hem him in. He had not more than 8000 
soldiers with him. It looked a desperate venture 
to meet such odds. Many of his best friends coun- 
selled him to retire for a time to Germany, or to 
cross over to the friendly shores of England. But, 
true to the motto he had early adopted, to conquer 
or die, Henry resolved to face the danger. He 


made the most skilful preparations to meet it. The 
town of Dieppe lies in a depression between two 
ranges of hills enclosing the valley through which 
the river Arques flows into the sea. A few miles 
up the valley this river is joined by another stream, 
the Bethune. On a height near the junction of the 
two rivers stood the castle of Arques. Instead of 
shutting himself up in the town and standing a siege 
there, Henry formed an entrenched camp in the 
neighborhood of the castle, placing his little army 
bo that its right was covered by the castle guns, 
and its left by the river. A thick wood lay in 
front, close to which there stood an hospital for 
lepers, called the Maladrerie. Taking in this build- 
ing, running between it and the wood, Henry had 
a trench dug eight feet wide, which he carried all 
round the camp. Earthworks fortified by cannon 
were thrown up within this trench. These works 
were carried on with extraordinary activity, the 
King himself working heartily in the trendies. 
The cloud that was rolling on to cover him looked 
thick and dark enough, but nothing could quench 
the gayety of that gayest of spirits. " Here I am," 
he said of himself at this time, " a king without a 
kingdom, a husband without a wife, a general with- 
out an army." " My heart," he writes to the Coun- 
tess de Grammont, " it's a marvel I'm living under 
such toil as I have. God have pity on me and 
bless my labors, as He has done in the face of not 
a few. I am well myself, and my affairs go well. 

HENRY IV. 255 

My enemies think snre to trap me here, but I am 
waiting for them in a camp that I have fortified. 
I expect to see them to-morrow, and if they 
attack me, I trust that, with God's blessing, it 
will be a bad bargain for them. The bear- 
er of this goes by the sea, and the wind and 
my affairs oblige me to conclude." ' Having 
failed in his first attempt to turn Henry's position 
and to cut off the communication with Dieppe, 
Mayenne at last (on the morning of the 21st Sep- 
tember 1589) resolved to attack the Haladrerie 
with his entire force. A thick fog favored the ap- 
proach. A German legion under Collato crossed 
the trench, waving their caps and giving it to be 
understood that they were deserters coming in to 
join tl e King. As they were mercenary troops, 
known to have no strong affection to the party on 
whose side they were lighting, the snare succeeded. 
The Swiss troops who occupied the Maladrerie re- 
ceived them with cheers and helped them to mount 
the earth-work. The entrance thus effected, the 
Germans turned upon the Swiss, while two French 
regiments that had been placed in ambuscade 
rushed across the trench. The Swiss were over- 

1 Collection de Documents Inedits sur FHistoire de France. 
Publies par ordre du Roi et par les soins du M'tnistre de l'Ln- 
struction Publique. 

Recueil des Lettres Missiles de Henri IV. Publie par 
M. Berger de Xivrey, Membre de l'lnstitut de France. Par- 
is Imprimerie Royale, 7 torn. 4to, 1843-1858. Tome iii. pp. 


borne, the building so important for the defence of 
the King's position was occupied. Elated by this 
first success, Mayenne ordered a general charge. 
Battalion after battalion poured down upon the 
small beleaguered band. Henry, as always, was 
in the midst of the melee ; his spirit got joyous in 
the strife. " Keep a pike for me there," he called 
out to Galato, the leader of the Swiss, whom he 
was trying to rally, " for I mean to fight at the 
head of your battalion." Montpensier's division 
had now advanced to support the King, but it was 
falling back under the heavy assault of the enemy. 
Henry felt that its repulse would be fatal. " Can 
it be," he exclaimed, as he dashed forward to rally 
the retreating column, " can it be that in all France 
there are not fifty cavaliers courageous enough to 
die with their King % " It had fared ill with him 
at this moment of the fight had not the fog which 
hitherto hung heavy over the field cleared up. 
The guns of the castle opened a murderous fire 
upon the assailants, while at the same time Cha- 
tillon, with a company of 500 Huguenot veterans, 
appeared upon the field. " Sire," said the youth- 
ful leader, as he rode up to Henry's side, " here we 
are ; we will die with you." Above the noise of 
battle there rose for a few moments the notes of 
that war-song of the Huguenots, the 38th Psalm : 
" Let God arise, and his enemies shall be scattered." 
That gallant company then plunged into the strife 
with such a dash of impetuous valor that the enemy 

HENRY IV. 257 

at once gave way. The tide of battle turned. All 
on Henry's side took heart again. Marshal Biron, 
who had been wounded and unhorsed early in the 
fight, mounted once more, and with the young 
Coligni by his side attacked and retook the Mala- 
drerie. There and everywhere the assailants were 
driven back, and after an hour or so of desperate 
fighting, a victory complete and decisive crowned 
the arms of the King. 

This brilliant success brought more than fame 
with it. It brought large succors to Henry, both 
home and foreign. At the head of an army more 
than 20,000 strong, he advanced rapidly on Par- 
is. The faubourgs on the left side of the riv- 
er were taken by assault and given up to pillage. 
The attempt, however, to take the city by storm 
failed, and Henry retired for winter-quarters to 

The campaign of 1590 opened by the siege of 
Honfleur on the part of the Eoyalists, and that of 
Meulan on the part of the Leaguers. The two 
armies, marching to the relief of the two places so 
threatened, met on the 14th March in the plain of 
Ivry. The advantage in point of numbers stilllay 
with the Leaguers. It was 16,000 against 10,000. 
Notwithstanding that superiority, Mayenne would 
not have crossed swords again so soon with the 
victor of Coutras and Arques, had not the young 
Count Egmont brought with him into France 6000 
infantry and 1200 "Walloon lances, a part of Parma's 


well-drilled troops, boasting that with them alone 
he would undertake to meet the Bearnese on the 
field. Mayenne yielded to Egmont's importunity 
and risked another battle. The two armies, drawn 
up in each other's presence, prepared for the en- 
counter in the usual fashion. Along the ranks of 
the Leaguers a cordelier, with crucifix in hand, in- 
voked the aid of Heaven, and doomed the heretics 
to destruction. Henry called upon his minister 
D'Amours to do as he had done at Coutras, Henry 
and all the Huguenot soldiers going down upon 
their knees, while D'Amours poured forth his fer- 
vid prayer. One other preparation for the combat 
Henry made. A day or two before the battle 
Schomberg, a German officer, had asked pay for 
himself and for his men. In a pique of the mo- 
ment the King had said to him that no man of 
honor ever asked for money on the eve of a battle. 
He now called the German to his side. "Schom- 
berg," he said, " I have done you wrong. To-day 
may be the last of my life. I don't want to sully 
the honor of a gentleman. I know your valor 
and your merit, pardon me and embrace me." 
"Your Majesty," said Schomberg, "wounded me 
the other day, but to-day you kill me. The honor 
you have done me will oblige me to die in your 
service," and he kept his word. After the battle 
he was found dead upon the field. The action 
that followed was essentially a cavalry engagement. 
Though the foot-soldiers on either side were three 

HENRY IV. 259 

times more numerous than the horse, they never 
encountered each other till the fate of the battle 
was fixed. When drawn up to face the enemy, 
Henry's cavalry regiments, mustering not more 
than half the number of their antagonists, looked 
otherwise ill-fitted to meet the shock. His troop- 
ers were all, for that age, lightly armed. The 
heavy lance of the cavalier, too costly for the poor 
Huguenot gentlemen, had been universally laid 
aside, the sword and the pistol being alone employ- 
ed in action. What was lost in momentum was 
found to be more than made up by the greater 
mobility. Henry, as he planted himself at the head 
of his troopers, had put a plume of white feathers 
in his crest and on his horse's head. " My friends." 
said he, ere he gave the signal for the charge, 
" If to-day you run my fortune, I run yours. I 
am resolved to die or to conquer with you. Keep 
your ranks, I beseech you ; if you break them in 
the heat of battle rally immediately, and if you lose 
sight of your standards then rally round my white 
plume; you will find it the road to victory and 
honor." The two lines of cavalry dashed upon 
each other. At first it looked as if by the sheer 
force of weight and numbers the Leaguers were to 
overbear the Royalists. Further and further back 
the white plume was seen to move. At last, calling 
out that those who did not wish to fight might at 
least turn and see him die, Henry, accompanied by 
not more than a dozen followers, plunged into the 


thick of the enemy. The white plume was lost to 
sight, and for a short space it was not known 
whether its bearer was dead or living, but again it 
waved on high. The words and action of the King 
sent a fresh fire through the ranks of the Royalists. 
Once more well-trained and high-spirited valor car- 
ried it over numbers. One short but terrible strug- 
gle, and the Leaguers everywhere gave way hope- 
lessly gave way, all attempt to rally them quite 
vain. Egmont fell. Mayenne, Nemours, and 
D'Aumale fled, and left their army to its fate. 
Many companies of the Swiss laid down their arms, 
having never fired a shot. The Germans cried for 
mercy, but the treachery of Arques was too fresh 
in the memory ; they were pitilessly massacred. 
As many perished in flight as in the battle-field. 
Mayenne had taken down the bridge of the Eure 
behind him to prevent pursuit. He left there 
hundreds of his own men to be shot down on the 
banks, or drowned in the river. " Spare the 
French," cried Henry, as he gazed on the bloody 
work that the sword of the pursuers was doing, 
" but down with the foreigners ! " Scarce a man 
of the Spaniards and Walloons got quarter. 1500 
of them were slain. Never was victory more com- 
plete. The Leaguer army was gone : a fourth part 
of it slain, a fourth part of it captured, the rest scat- 
tered and irretrievably disorganized. How finely 
has Lord Macaulay caught the spirit and seized 
upon the chief incidents of this decisive battle 

HENRY IV. 261 

Oh ! how our hearts were beating, when, at the dawn of day, 
We saw the army of the League drawn out in long array, 
With all its priest-led citizens, and all its rebel peers; 
And AppenzeTs stout infantry, and Egmont's Flemish 

There rode the brood of false Lorraine, the curses of our 

And dark Mayenne was in the midst, a truncheon in his 


The King is come to marshal us, in all his armor drest, 
And he has bound a snow-white plume upon his gallant 

He looked upon his people, and a tear was in his eye, 
He looked upon the traitors, and his glance was stern and 

Right graciously he smiled on us, as rolled from wing to 

Down all our line a deafening shout ' God save our Lord 

the King ! ' 
* And if my standard-bearer fall, as fall full well he may, 
For never saw I promise yet of such a bloody day, 
Press where ye see my white plume shine amid the ranks 

of war, 
And be your oriflamme to-day the helmet of Navarre.' 

Hurrah ! the foes are moving ! Hark to the mingled din 
Of fife, and steed, and trump, and drum, and roaring .cul- 

The fiery Duke is pricking fast across St. Andre's plain, 
With all the hireling chivalry of Guelders and Ahnayne. 
' Now, by the lips of those ye love, fair gentlemen of France, 
Charge for the golden lilies upon them with the lance.' 
A thousand spears are striking deep a thousand spears in 

A thousand knights are pressing close behind the snow- 
white crest ; 


And in they burst, and on they rushed, while, like a guid- 
ing star, 
Amidst the thickest carnage blazed the helmet of Navarre. 

Now, God be praised, the day is ours ! Mayenne hath turned 

his rein, . 

D'Aumale hath cried for quarter, the Flemish Count is 

slain ; 
Their ranks are breaking like thin clouds before a Biscay 

The field is heaped with bleeding steeds, and flags and 

cloven mail. 
And then we thought on vengeance, and all along our van 
1 Remember St. Batholomew,' was passed from man to man ; 
But out spake gallant Henry, ' No Frenchman is my foe, 
Down, down with every foreigner, but let your brethren go.' 
Oh ! was there ever such a knight in friendship or in war 
As our Sovereign Lord King Henry, the soldier of 

Navarre ! " 

Four letters of Henry are extant, written on the 
evening of this eventful day of his life. One of 
these runs thus: "Monsieur La Noue, God 
has blessed us. To-day the battle came off. It has 
been fought well. God has shown that he loves 
right better than might. Our victory is entire. The 
enemy totally broken. The Heiter fairly destroyed. 
The infantry surrounded. The foreigners badly 
handled. The whole cornets and the cannon taken. 
The pursuit carried to the gates of Mantes. From the 
camp at Rosny, within a league of Mantes, at ten 
o'clock of the evening of the 14th day of March 
1590." ' Next forenoon saw him in the tennis- 

1 Becueil, etc., tome iii. pp. 171-2. 

HENRY IV. 263 

court at Mantes, as eager in the game as he had 
been in the fight. The bakers of the town beat 
him, won money from him, and refused to give him 
his revenge. The King got hold of some ovens, 
set them a-baking all the night, and next morning 
had bread offered all through the town at half the 
common price. The bakers in their turn were 
beaten, .and were too glad to give in. Two days' 
quick march would have carried Henry's victori- 
ous army to the gates of Paris ; and such was the 
panic created there, that had the advice of La 
Noue been taken, and the capital at once attacked, 
there can be little doubt that it would have fallen 
into Henry's hands, and, that heart of the League 
crushed, Henry would have been King of France 
without needing to abjure. But as after Coutras 
he let fifteen days go idly by before he again placed 
himself at the head of his army, so it was not un- 
til the 7th May that he appeared before Paris. The 
Parisians had made good use of the respite. The 
fortifications were repaired ; chains thrown across 
the river. There were not more than 5000 reoru- 
lar soldiers in the garrison, but 30,000 well-armed 
men enrolled themselves as the city militia. The 
royal army, relinquishing the i lea of assault, drew 
its iron cordon round and round the city ; every 
avenue was blocked up by which food of any kind 
could enter. The city was to be starved into sur- 
render. So soon as the first pressure of this blockade 
was felt within the walls, an accurate count was 


taken of the number of inhabitants and of the amount 
of provisions of all kinds. It was found that there 
were about 200,000 to be fed, and but food enough, 
on short allowance, to last a month. Though poorlj 
supplied with viands, the city was richly enough 
provided with priests, and on them lay the burden, 
one willingly and nobly borne, to keep the spirit 
of " no surrender " up among the people. They did 
so by deed as well as word. On the 14th May 
(seven days after the siege had commenced) 1300 
priests and monks, with the Bishop of Senlis at 
their head as their colonel, marched through the 
streets with casque and corselet over their priestly 
vestments, crucifix in one hand, musket or halberd 
in the .other a new order of city guard improvised 
to assist in the defence of the city. Charmed with 
the chivalry of his order, the Papal Legate goes 
forth to meet the procession. Four abreast, they 
defile before him ; he rises in his carriage to hail 
them as a very band of Maccabees. He must re- 
ceive the due military salute, but unhappily one 
of these clerical volunteers had forgotten that he 
had charged his arquebus with ball, and in the 
height of his excitement, not looking, perhaps not 
caring, how he held his piece, he shot the secretary 
of the Legate dead in the carriage by his master's 
side. Though awkwardly handled, however, there 
were some of these arquebuses that did good service 
in the siege, and many of their awkward handlers 
gallantly gave up their lives. 


The month passed, and the ordinary stores were 
all exhausted. The rumor ran that the religious 
houses had stores of food laid up. They were in- 
spected by the city police, and in more than one of 
them food enough to keep its inmates for a year 
and more was found. An order was issued that for 
fifteen days the conventual establishments should 
undertake to supply the wants of the entire popula- 
tion. To execute this order the clergy were obliged 
at last to erect large copper vessels, out of which a 
broth of abominable meat, composed of dogs' flesh, 
bran, and pease a kind of food soon to be remem- 
bered with regret was served out daily. June and 
July ran their course ; gaunt famine grew gaunter 
and gaunter. It was now only on the table of the 
wealthiest, and then as a rarity, purchased at an 
exorbitant price, that horse-flesh appeared. Dogs, 
rats, mice, all kinds of living creatures, were hunted, 
snared, devoured undressed. A lean and hungry 
dog, and a lean and hungry man, fought with each 
other for each other's bodies in the street, and the 
dog got the better of the man. All kinds of vege- 
table food were sought for everywhere, the grass 
that grew in deserted streets torn up with greedy 
hands. August came, and outside the city walls the 
ripe grain was seen waving in the fields. Hundreds 
of famishing creatures rushed out, and attempted, 
under the fire and the sabre-stroke, to snatch a few 
bloody handfuls. And now at last the horrors within 
the city reached their height. The last and best 


historian of France tells us. that the history of that 
country presents nothing that can be compared 
with them. 1 One by one all kinds of flesh, and 
grain, and herbs had been eaten up. To soothe 
the raging hunger they pounded slates down to mix 
with a little bran and water. The Papal Legate 
chanced to remember hearing that in a city of the 
East, besieged by the Persians, they had made bread 
of pounded bones. The cemeteries were rifled, and 
of human bones was made that inhuman bread. 
And they had the flesh as well as the bones of 
the dead. Children who had died through sheer 
want of nourishment were salted and kept for their 
own mothers' food. Two hundred corpses daily 
of those who dropped down by the way strewed 
the streets. Henry had been early touched with 
what he saw and heard, and had allowed 3000 old 
men, women, and children to pass out through his 
lines. He had some food conveyed into the city 
to supply the tables of the Princesses within the 
walls, and he winked at the practice of some of his 
officers who made large gains by a secret traffic in 
eatables. But though the most favorable terms 
were offered, the famine-stricken city still held out, 
clinging to the hope given by Mayenne, that a 
Spanish army was on its way for their relief. 

And the relief did come at last. On the morn- 
ing of the 30th August the haggard sentinels on 

1 Histaire de France, par Henri Martin, vol. x. p. 219. 

HENRY IV. 267 

the city walls looked out, and no besiegers were 
to be seen. During the night Henry and his army 
had disappeared. It was not a day too soon. The 
Duke of Parma had entered France, united his 
forces with those of the Duke of Mayenne, and was 
already at Meaux. It seemed to Henry that the 
opportunity would be given him of measuring 
swords with the greatest general of Christendom. 
He hastened to the encounter. Marching at once 
to the heights of Chelles he placed himself in Par- 
ma's front. In point of numbers the two armies 
were about equal. In discipline, indeed, the well- 
paid, well-fed, well-drilled troops of Farnese had 
all the advantage; but Henry had 4000 French 
gentlemen in his camp, who longed once more to 
follow the white plume on another such field as 
Ivry. On the evening of the day on which the 
two armies came in sight of one another, Parma 
ascended a neighboring height. Having slowlv 
reconnoitred the camp of the enemy, he turned 
eagerly to Mavenne, ar d said, " I do not see here 
that assemblage of 10,000 squalid adventurers you 
spoke of; instead, I see a numerous and well-train- 
ed army of 25,000 men, with artillery." Henry's 
own burning wish was to close the struggle by one 
other decisive blow. " I write this word to you," 
such were the terms of a note despatched by him 
at this time, " on the eve of a battle. The issue 
is in the hands of God. If I lose it, you will nev- 
er see me more ; for I am not the man to retreat 


or fly. And if I die, my last thought but one will 
be given to you ; my last to God, to whom I com- 
mend us both." x But the wily Italian, as cautious 
as his antagonist was bold, had resolved not to fight. 
He saw how he could gain the end he came for 
without running such a risk. Next day, seeing 
his adversary remain unmoved within his lines, 
Henry sent a herald to Parma inviting him to bat- 
tle. " Tell your master," said Parma in reply, 
" that I am come by command of the King, my 
master, to raise the siege of Paris ; if I find that 
the shortest way to this is by a battle, I will 
give it ; but that I have not come so far to take 
his advice as to what it is best for me to do." 
For five days the two armies remained in presence 
of each other, but nothing could tempt the Far- 
nese out of his entrenchments. On the morning, 
however, of the 6th September the Spanish cavalry 
was seen deploying on the heights. Henry fan- 
cied that the longed-for hour had come. It was 
but a skilful manoeuvre to cover the movement of 
a body of troops, thrown rapidly by a bridge of 
boats across the river Marne, by which the town 
of Lagni was taken by assault, and the throat of 
Parma, that he would relieve Paris by uncorking 
one of the supplying rivers that Henry had so care- 
fully sealed up, was adroitly executed, almost under 

1 This letter was addressed to Madame de la Roche Guy on, 
Marquis de Guercherille. See Recueil, etc., vol. iii. p. 244. 

HENRY rv. 269 

Henry's eves. Baffled by the great military tacti- 
cian, after an unsuccessful attempt to take Paris by 
escalade, Henry broke up his army. Early in No- 
vember Parma left the neighborhood of Paris to 
carry his army back into the Netherlands. JSib 
sooner was Henry informed of a movement which 
he had all along anticipated, than he summoned 
to his side the Eoyalist nobles of the north, hung 
upon Parma's retreat himself day and night in the 
saddle, appearing now on the rear, now on the 
flank, sometimes even in the front of the enemy. 
And it was during this same hot pursuit of the Span- 
iard that Henry found himself at La Fere, within 
twenty-four miles of the castle of Cceuvres, to 
which the fair Gabrielle d'Estrees had retired to 
avoid the impetuosity of his affection. The castle 
was close to Soissons, then held by a garrison of 
the Leaguers. Nevertheless Henry resolved to 
visit it. At early dawn he set off to take a road 
that it would have been perilous for any common 
Eoyalist soldier to traverse. TThen nine miles 
from the castle, he sent young Biron to announce 
his approaching visit, then entering a little village 
hostelry he threw off his dress, put on a peasant's, 
and, to make his incognito all the more complete, 
he threw a sack of straw upon his back, and, bur- 
dened thus, the Royal wooer trudged along. The 
sack indeed was thrown off before he presented 
himself to Gabrielle ; but he was still in the rustic 
garb, and she scarce could retain her laughter at 


the sight. This singular mark of attention made, 
however, the impression he desired. "I have 
good heart," he said, " regarding it, and that after 
this interview nothing will go wrong with me." 
The King was back at the camp by nightfall, and 
next day was in the saddle again, pursuing the 
harassed and enfeebled enemy, whom he finally, on 
the 1st December, saw safely across the border. 

Great military preparations marked the open- 
ing of the year 1591. Turenne had been despatched 
to England and Germany, and in both countries 
had been eminently successful. The niggard hand 
of Elizabeth had been somehow opened, and 5000 
English infantry and 500 English horse, under 
Essex, were sent across the Channel. Our Eng- 
lish Queen, with her accustomed prudence (that 
we may use no harsher term), had sought to 
impose it upon Henry, as a condition of her aid, 
that Calais should be delivered as hostage into her 
hands. There is no nobler letter of this King than 
that in which, in great straits though he was, he 
rightly and patriotically refuses compliance with 
this demand. Elizabeth, however, prevailed so far 
that Henry consented that the first great enterprise 
attempted should be the reduction of Rouen. A 
German auxiliary force of 10,000 infantry and G000 
cavalry was organized under the Prince of Anhalt. 
Before, however, the combined forces had sat down 
before Rouen, events had transpired in Paris which 
revealed in characters of blood the intestine divis- 

HENRY IV. 271 

ions of the League. The extreme party there had 
quarrelled with the Parliament and with Mayenne, 
whose measures were too slow and too moderate 
for their taste. Irritated at the manner in which 
memorial after memorial, each containing more ex- 
travagant demands than its predecessor, had been 
received, they had recourse to open violence. One 
morning, as he was on his way to the Palace of 
Justice, Brisson, the first President of the Parlia- 
ment, was seized and conducted to one of the city 
prisons. A self-constituted and illegal tribunal 
passed speedy judgment on him, and condemned 
him to immediate death. In vain the President 
protested against the lawlessness of the deed ; in 
vain he asked for trial before any competent court ; 
in vain he asked for a few days' delay to be shut 
up where they liked, and fed on bread and water, 
if only time were given him to finish a book for the 
instruction of the young that he was engaged in 
preparing. He was hurried down to a vault of the 
prison, a rude kind of gallows was constructed, and 
he was hanged upon the spot. Two other magis- 
trates of the city shared his fate. The perpetra- 
tors of this deed had counted upon a popular emeute 
in their favor. They were disappointed. Paris 
lay motionless, struck dumb. Fearing to face the 
people by day, they bore the three bodies in the 
night to the Place de Greve, and there the morn- 
ing saw three gibbets, with the corpses of the three 
magistrates hung on them, with large placards on 


each, denouncing them as traitors and favorers of 
heresy But neither did that sight do any thing to 
rouse the passions of the populace. They had 
outrun all public sympathy ; the tide'had begun to 
set the other way in favor of peace, if possible of 
some compromise. Mayenne was at Laon when 
he heard of this affair. He immediately returned 
to Paris, and a day or two afterwards four of the 
ringleaders were arrested, and, with as little respect 
to the forms of justice as they themselves had 
shown, were hanged in a hall of the Louvre. A 
futile attempt at resistance was speedily quelled, 
and the Duke's triumph was complete. The rule 
of the Council of Sixteen was over. 

Rouen was completely invested. Every pre- 
paration, however, had been made for its defence. 
Its gallant commander, Villars, had sent away all 
strangers, all old and infirm persons, from the city ; 
had strengthened its fortifications and laid in ample 
stores of provisions. Parma besides, who had re- 
ceived his master's orders to do for Rouen what 
he had done the year before for Paris, once more 
entered France. So soon as he heard of this, leaving 
the main body of his own troops to continue the 
close investment of the city, Henry took with him 
some squadrons of cavalry, and set off to watch the 
motions of the enemy. One day, riding forward 
with a few hundred horse, the rest being left behind 
under the command of the Duke of Nevers, Hen- 
ry found himself suddenly in front of the entire 

HENRY IV. 273 

Spanish army. His little band, composed princi- 
pally of the noblemen and gentlemen in immediate 
attendance npon him, was instantly attacked. 
Instead of ordering a retreat, Henry dashed for- 
ward to meet the charge. But meanwhile large 
companies of the enemy's light cavalry came in 
upon him on either flank. It was no longer a ques- 
tion of victory, but of escape. Henry signalled his 
companions to make for a little bridge that lay on 
his way back to where Nevers was lying. But 
the white plume had been seen. The cry that it 
was Navarre himself ran through the Spanish lines. 
There needed but the order from Parma, and such 
a force would be launched upon the little band that 
was fighting its way back slowly to the bridge, as 
must have cut off all possibility of retreat. Henry 
must either have been cut down or have yielded 
himself a prisoner. But Parma hesitated he sus- 
pected stratagem; he could not believe that so 
good a soldier as Henry would advance so far with- 
out having adequate supports at hand. He held 
back his troops and gave positive orders against 
any thing like a general advance. Even as it was, 
Henry was fighting against tremendous odds. His 
friends were falling fast around him a full half of 
the entire number of them was cut off. He was 
himself the last to pass the bridge, and just as he 
was crossing, a gun-shot struck him in the loins. 
At last his retreat was covered by the advancing 
troopers of Xevers. It was a day of wild excite- 


ment, when hand to hand each man was fighting 
for his life full too of changeful incident. The 
survivors met in the evening in the chamber of the 
King, whose wound, though weakening him for 
the time by the loss of blood it occasioned, turned 
out not to be dangerous. " And I have to observe," 
says Sully, " as singular, that of all those assembled 
who had been present at the combat not two indi- 
viduals could agree in the recital." Both generals 
were loudly blamed in their respective camps 
Henry for his rashness, Parma for his caution. The 
one scarcely took the trouble to excuse himself for 
a fault which he knew would be so readily forgiven. 
The other only haughtily said that he thought that 
he had to contend with a general of a great army, 
and not with a captain of dragoons. 

The Spanish army advanced to within seven 
leagues of Rouen. Parma now wished to fight, but 
Mayenne and his French counsellors had as little de- 
sire to see the Spaniard triumph, as Biron and many 
of the Catholic royalists had to see Henry do the 
same. They would not risk all on the fate of an en- 
gagement, and so Parma had to content himself with 
the raising of the siege, which he effected with his 
usual skill. On retiring from Rouen, he again yield- 
ed to French counsel, and undertook the reduction of 
Caudebec, a small town in the neighborhood. It 
was here, while engaged in examining its defences, 
that a musket-shot hit him in the arm about the 
elbow, the ball running down and lodging at the 

hexry iv. 275 

wrist. He gave no token that he was struck con- 
tinued his survey as if nothing had happened and 
it was the sight of the blood flowing down upon his 
cloak that first told what had occurred. The ball 
was clumsily extracted, and the weakness that fol- 
lowed unfitted the great officer for much active duty. 
The command fell mainly into the hands of Mayenne, 
who conducted the allied army fro in Caudebec to 
Yvetot, an almost peninsular projection of land run- 
ning into the Seine. The eagle eye of Henry saw 
at once the mistake that had been committed. Gath- 
ering up all the troops he had beside him, and send- 
ing off his officers in all directions to summon back 
those who had but just left the camp ; he advanced 
to within a mile of the Spanish hues, occupying 
the only ground along which they could either ad- 
vance or retreat. Parma must now either risk a 
battle, and that in a position most unfavorable to 
him for such a combat, or he must capitulate. 
" Now," said he exultingly, as he contemplated the 
advantage he had gotten, u Xow for the stroke 
that shall win for me my crown." But Parma had 
no sooner disco vered the perils of his position, than 
he had hastened to provide for his deliverance. 
Secret orders were at once despatched to Rouen to 
have a sufficient number of boats and rafts prepared 
and sent down quietly to Yvetot by the reflux of 
an evening tide. Henry went to rest believing that 
he was on the eve of another Coutras or Ivry, but 
the first sight the morning showed him was full 


one-half of the Spanish army safe on the opposite 
bank of the Seine, the other half on its way, so- 
protected by cannon and cavalry that he could do 
nothing to hinder, little even to mar, the passage. 
It was the last great triumph of the Farnese. He 
led his army back again as he had done before, to 
the Netherlands, and a few months afterwards he 
died at Spa. 

Hostilities languished in France as soon as Par- 
ma had retired. Henry saw his English, Dutch, and 
German auxiliaries depart. Two years of heroic 
struggle had left him nothing but the sterile glo- 
ries of Arqties and Ivry. He was as far from the 
throne as ever. It was not upon the battle-field, it 
would seem, that the great question of the succes- 
sion was to be decided. In one respect he had been 
latterly making way with the nation. The monar- 
chical principle and that of hereditary succession 
represented in his person had been becoming more 
and more allied with the spirit of national inde- 
pendence. This was owing to the form which 
Spanish intrigue had been taking. The interven- 
tion of Philip II. in French affairs had sprung orig- 
inally from his dread that Frt-n?U..aid would be 
given to the Netherlander in their ^?9^t revolt 
against his authority. By degrees, however 
got his hand more fully in, and felt at once the 
weakness of the Guises and of the democratic and 
priestly party in Paris and elsewhere, his aims ex- 
panded till at last the Crown of France itself seemed 

HENRY IV. 277 

within his grasp, and the reduction of France to 
the condition of a mere dependency on the Spanish 
monarchy formed part of that vast scheme of uni- 
versal European empire which his counsellors had 
mapped out for him. The evidence of this being 
now the end and aim of all his meddling with French 
affairs was too direct and too copious to be any long- 
er questioned, and in proportion as the knowledge 
of the fact spread among the people the repugnance 
to Spanish intervention grew broader and deeper. 
The peiil from that quarter Henry did not fear 
so much to face, but a new peril had sprung up 
nearer at hand. Impatient of his long delay in 
fulfilling the promise he had made at the death of 
his predecessor, dissatisfied with the favor that he 
continued to extend to the Huguenots, irritated at 
the strong sayings of the King that the Calvinists 
were constantly circulating, that he would live and 
die in their faith, offended at the sight of English, 
Dutch, and German Protestants taking so large a 
share in all military operations, the Dukes of 
Montpensier, De Nevers, De Longneville, D'Eper- 
non, the Marshal D'Aumont, the superintendent 
Francis d'O, the great chiefs of the Catholic royalists, 
were gradually drawing off from him, and approxi- 
mating to those Bourbon Catholic Princes, the sons 
of his uncle Conde, one or other of whom had been 
often named in connection with the succession to the 
throne. The old Cardinal of Bourbon, Henry's uncle, 
had been actually proclaimed King under the title of 


Charles X. by the League. He was now dead, and 
a meeting of the Estates-General of the kingdom 
had been summoned by the Duke of Mayenne to 
meet in Paris in January 1593, to deliberate as to 
the selection of a successor to the throne. The le- 
gal authority of any such body, so called, Navarre 
utterly repudiated. Its authority however was ac- 
knowledged by Philip of Spain, who sent the Duke 
of Feria to be present as Ambassador-Extraordinary 
from Spain. It was countenanced by the Papal 
Legate, who, exerting all his influence, ordered it 
to take instant steps for filling the throne of France 
with a Prince devoted to the Papacy. In either 
way, whether through the success of Spanish and 
Papal diplomacy, or through a union with the 
more moderate Leaguers and the tiers parti, com- 
posed of the Catholic royalists, should an actual 
election be come to and another King proclaimed, 
a new and very serious obstacle would be placed in 
Henry's way to the throne. A thousand voices 
kept now repeating it in Henry's ears that the only 
way for him at once to save the monarchy and 
secure for himself the throne was his return into 
the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church. His 
pride had hitherto revolted at the idea of a change 
of faith forced on him from without. His sense of 
honor revolted equally at the idea of confessing 
with the lip what in his heart lie did not believe. 
But against these came now the strong pleadings of 
self-interest and of public duty. Was a crown 

HENRY IV. 279 

to be lost, a kingdom ruined, for a difference about 
creeds and churches, matters that in themselves 
he had never cared much about ? Was that 
France, which from his youth he had so dearly 
loved, which it had been the day-dream of his am- 
bition that he was the destined instrument to save 
and to regenerate, to Le torn in pieces or thrown 
enslaved into the arms of the stranger ? He con- 
sulted his ablest advisers. TVith few exceptions 
they agreed as to the course that he should take. 
Sully has told us without reserve how he presented 
the matter to his royal master. " I can find," he 
said to Henry, " but two ways to any good issue 
out of your present embarrassments. By the one 
you must put forth strong resolutions, pra tise se- 
verities and rigor that are quite contrary to your 
humor and inclination ; you must pass through a 
million of difficulties, fatigues, pains, perils, and 
labors, have your body always on the saddle, the 
corselet always on your back, the helmet on your 
head, the pistol in your finger, and the sword in 
your hand ; nay, what is more, farewell to repose, 
to pleasure, to love, to mistresses, to games, to dogs, 
to hawking, to buildings, for you cannot come 
out through these affairs but by multitudes of com- 
bats, taking of cities, great victories, and a great 
shedding of blood. Instead of all this, by the 
other way, which is for you to accommodate 
yourself in the matter of religion to the will of the 
majority of your subjects you escape all these 


pains and difficulties in this world; but as for the 
other world," said the courtier, smiling, and the 
King laughed with him as he said it, " I cannot 
answer for it." 

It became urgent that Henry should not only 
come to a decision, but announce it. After three 
months wasted in idle debate, the Estates-General 
were informed that the Duke of Feria had a com- 
munication to make to them from his Royal master. 
Without circumlocution or disguise, Philip demand- 
ed that his daughter should be at once proclaimed 
Queen of France in her own right, as granddaugh- 
ter of Henry II. The Duke might have guessed 
what the temper of many of the Leaguers was when 
one of the most violent of them, the Bishop of 
Senlis, sprang up upon his feet as soon as this prop- 
osition was made to the Estates, and at the pitch 
of his voice exclaimed, " Heaven punishes us for our 
faults. The proposition of the ambassador is the 
greatest evil that could have befallen the League ; 
it confirms all that the Politiques have said, that 
interest and ambition have had more to do with 
this war than zeal for religion ; it lets us know 
that in thinking to serve the Church we have 
been the blind instruments of a foreign King. 
To break the Salic Law is to destroy this king- 
dom." Uninstructed by this effusion, when the 
ambassador was asked to whom his master meant 
that his daughter should be married, he answered, 
"To the Arch-Duke Ernest." He was soon 

HENRY IV. 281 

taught to know that the idea of filling np the 
French throne in such a way as that never could 
be entertained. He yielded so far as to con- 
sent that it should be a French Prince who should 
be chosen ; and, pressed at once to name him, he 
announced that it would be the young Duke of 
Guise upon whom the honor of this alliance should 

The time for prompt action on Henry's part 
had come. He announced to the Estates-General 
that he had resolved to conform to the Roman 
Catholic religion. This announcement and the pro- 
posals of the Spanish monarch came at the same 
time before the notice of the Estates. The slow and 
cautious Mayenne distrusted Philip, and shrinking 
from taking the last and irrevocable step, induced 
them to declare that they could not proceed to the 
election and proclamation of the Infanta till they 
saw the means provided and secured for maintaining 
her upon the throne. A like dilatory policy dic- 
tated the answer given to Xavarre's announcement. 
It was to the effect that the Estates thanked God 
for the conversion of the King ; but as that conver- 
sion was a purely spiritual act, the recognition of it 
lay alone with the Pope ; and that till his Holiness 
had absolved Henry and received him back again 
into the Church, no action could be taken by the 
Estates. Henry however had resolved not to sub- 
ject himself to the delays and risks attendant upon 
an application to a Pope who was acting as an ally 


of Spain. Preparatory to his public act of abjura- 
tion, lie invited five Catholic Bishops to hold a 
private conference with him at St. Denis. Early 
in the morning of the day fixed for this conference 
(Friday, July 23) he wrote thus to Gabrielle d'Es- 
trees, " I arrived here early last night, and was im- 
portuned by God-fearers till bed-time. The hope 
I have of seeing you to-morrow keeps back my hand 
from making a long discourse. On Sunday I am to 
take the perilous leap. Even now, when I am 
writing to you, I have a hundred distractions upon 
my shoulders, that make me hate St. Denis as much 
as you do Nantes. Good-by, my heart ; come ear- 
ly to-morrow, for it seems a year since I saw you." 
The Bishops were admitted immediately after this 
epistle had been despatched. Seven hours were 
spent in going over all the topics in dispute between 
the Calvinists and Romanists, with the view of re- 
moving any remaining doubts or scruples on the 
part of the King. The merry monarch took a ma- 
licious pleasure in puzzling his instructors with pas- 
sages of Scripture and arguments which it gave 
them no little trouble to answer. One or two of 
the points were lightly enough disposed of. " Well," 
said the King, when they came to Prayers for the 
Dead, " we may pass by the requiem ; I'm not dead 
yet, and have no wish to be so. The doctrine of Pur- 
gatory came before them : " As to that," he said, 
" I will receive it, not as an article of faith but as a 
belief of the Church, and also," he added bowing to 

HENRY IV. 283 

the Bishops, " to please you, knowing that it is the 
bread of priests." At last the weary honrs were 
over. " Yon have not satisfied me," such were the 
King's parting words, spoken not in levity, " you 
have not satisfied me as much as I had desired ; 
but I put my soul into your hands to-day, and do, 
I pray you, have a care ; for the way in which you 
now make me enter I leave only by death. That 
I protest and swear." Tears stood in the.King's 
eyes as he spoke these parting words. The Bishops 
declared themselves satisfied. 

At eight o'clock the next Sunday morning, at- 
tended by an imposing escort, Henry made his 
way to the. ancient church beneath which lay the 
ashes of so many of his predecessors. Arrived in 
front of it, the doors were closed. The King 
knocked ; the doors were folded back ; and in the 
grand entrance, seated upon his episcopal throne, 
and surrounded by a throng of surpliced ecclesias- 
tics, the Archbishop of Bourges appeared. " Who 
are you \ " said the Archbishop to the advancing 
monarch. " I am the King." " What is that you 
ask ? " "I ask to be received into the bosom of 
the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church." Henry 
knelt then at the Prelate's feet and said, " I prom- 
ise and make oath to live and die in the Catholic 
religion ; to protect and defend it against all ene- 
mies, at peril of my blood and life, renouncing all 
heresies contrary thereto." He then handed to the 
Prelate a paper signed by him containing his re- 


cantation, kissing the Prelate's hand and ring. The 
Archbishop then rose, and laying his hands upon 
the head of the King, pronounced the words of ab- 
solution and reception into the Church. Peals of 
artillery and the plaudits of assembled thousands 
rent the air ; the King's attendants plucked their 
swords from their scabbards and waved them in the 
air ; the soldiers of his body-guard shouted for glad- 
ness. The procession entered the Church. Again, 
before the high altar, Henry knelt, and kissing the 
sacred volume, and then laying hand upon it, re- 
peated the oath of abjuration. He then retired to 
make confession to the Archbishop. On his reap- 
pearing, High Mass was celebrated. At the eleva- 
tion of the Host, t 1 e King bent till his brow 
touched the pavement. The organ pealed, and the 
notes of the Te Deum Laudamus filled the arches 
of the ancient edifice. The act was done. The 
two principles that had been at war with each other 
the monarchical and the Catholic were at peace 
again. The bond between Church and State that 
had been severed was renewed. 

It was not with unmingled satisfaction that all 
the Roman Catholic prelates looked on as that 
great ecclesiastical drama was performed. " I am 
a Catholic," said one of them, " by life and profes- 
sion, and a faithful subject and servant of the King, 
I shall live and die such. Yet I think it would 
have been better had the King remained in his 
religion than changed as he has done ; for there is 

HKN'RY IV. 285 

a (rod above who judges us, respect to whom alone 
should sway the consciences of kings, and not a re- 
gard to crowns and kingdoms. I expect nothing 
but evil from it." 

With that truth-loving Bishop every right-think- 
ing man will now cordially agree ; for, let us do all 
the justice that we can to Henry in the difficult 
position that he occupied, let us believe of him that 
it was love of country more than love of self, his 
patriotism even more than his ambition that prompt- 
ed him, let us believe that no deep religious belief 
on his part stood in the way, and had to be belied, 
let us acknowledge the weight of the political con- 
siderations that presented themselves, and the im- 
mense benefits the unity the peace the great 
national recovery that ensued. Still, however 
much we may try to excuse, as we cannot believe 
it to have been one of sincere and honest convic- 
tion, we cannot but condemn the deed. ]Sor have 
we been able to persuade ourselves that it was not 
one which finally entailed upon France far greater 
evils than those which it averted. A fearful pic- 
ture has been drawn of all the consequences that 
must have attended his continuing to be a Protes- 
tant. The prolongation of the civil and religious 
wars the final defeat of the Huguenots the dis- 
memberment of France, or reduction under a for- 
eign yoke. But with a sixth of the entire popula- 
tion of France still Protestant with that Hugue- 
not army so trained to war and so thoroughly de- 


voted to liim with that growing number of the 
Catholic aristocracy, and especially of the middle 
classes, ready to attach themselves to him despite 
of his Calvinism with that strong spirit of nation- 
ality rising to support his claim with the League 
before him divided and distracted with councils 
with Philip weakened in all his resources, no sec- 
ond Parma left to supply by military genius the 
decline of his military power with the aid that 
England and the Netherlands and Germany would 
have been ready to extend, who can readily believe 
that any common French or Spanish General would 
have been a match for the conqueror of Arques and 
Ivry, or that any political party that could then 
have been organized in France would have been 
able to pluck the crown from the strong hand which 
grasped it ? Doubtless, as Sully told, in that way 
of it he might have had a long enough and hard 
enough battle to fight, but it would have been as 
honorable as arduous. Even had he failed, or had 
he perished in the conflict, then, still readier than 
now, would we have hailed him as Henry the 
Great. But had he succeeded, as we believe he 
would, had religious liberty been at that time es- 
tablished in France, unpurchased by the price of 
royal perfidy, had truth and honor unimpeached 
sat down in his person upon the throne, what a dif- 
ferent future had there been for France and for 
Europe ! for it is impossible to forget that though 
the immediate and proximate results seemed to 

HENRY IV. 287 

justify the course he took, yet that finally and in 
the long-run his policy was a failure that he him- 
self at last sank beneath the knife of the assassin 
that the religious toleration which he had been at 
such pains to establish was, in the reign of his 
grandson, trampled to the ground in that unhappy 
year that saw a million of the thriftiest and most 
virtuous of the French population driven into ex- 
ile that the monarchy grounded on his abjuration 
perished amid the horrors of anarchy, and that the 
last of his line who filled the throne fell under the 
stroke of the public executioner. 



HENRY IV., 1593-1610. 

Entrance into Paris. Attempt at assassinating the King. 
Affair of Fontaine Francaise. Absolution by the Pope. 
Reception at Amiens. Siege of Le Fere. Submission of 
Mayenne. Sully. Assembly of Notables. Taking of 
Amiens. Recapture of the city. Close of the civil wars. 
Edict of Nantes. Peace of Vervins. Death of Marshal 
Biron. Ten years of peace. Their fruitful labors. As- 
sassination of the King. 

Henry lost no time in trying to get the abso- 
lution of the French Episcopate ratified by the 
Holy See. To give the greater weight to his ap- 
plication he not only wrote himself in submissive 
enough terms to the Pope, but despatched the 
Duke of Nevers, who was accompanied by some 
eminent ecclesiastics, as his ambassador to Rome. 
Clement, however, had made up his mind not to 
listen to this application. Nevers was not recog- 
nized ill his official character at the Papal Court. 
He was denied all public audience by his Holiness 
Clement refused to submit the matter for consid 
eration to the Sacred College. He never would 
believe in the sincerity of Henry's abjuration of 
the Reformed faith ; no, not though an angel from 

HENRY IV. 889 

heaven were to vouch for it. He never would ab- 
solve the relapsed heretic of Navarre. But he 
would not state the grounds of his refusal ; he 
would not even put that refusal down in writing, 
nor condescend to inform the French Ambassador 
what Henry ought to do in order to establish the 
genuineness of his conversion. He went so far as 
to have it not obscurely hinted to Nevers that the 
ecclesiastics who accompanied him, by the part 
that they had taken in the French absolution, had 
rendered themselves amenable to the Holy Inquis- 
ition, before whose tribunal it was possible they 
might be called. Dreading some act of violence 
directed against the Bishops, Xevers had them 
brought to his own lodgings, and gave it distinctly 
to be understood that he would let himself be cut 
to pieces before one of them was touched. Exas- 
perated at the treatment he had received, Xevers 
at last quitted Rome. The rumor ran that the 
agents of the Inquisition were to arrest the Bish- 
ops on their way out of the city. The Duke took 
them beside him in his own coach, declaring that 
he would cut down with his own hand whoever 
dared to molest them. No one who knew Nevers 
doubted that he would make good his word. The 
carriage with all its freight passed out of the Es- 
tates of the Church untouched. 

The Pope's refusal to grant absolution furnished 
to Mayenne and to the zealots of the League the 
ground or the excuse upon which they maintained 


an attitude of continued hostility to Henry. But 
the rude and insulting manner in which the refusal 
had been conveyed stirred up on the part of a large 
body both of the clergy and laity the spirit of 
Gallican independence, so that it may be doubted 
whether upon the whole the gain to the King was 
not greater than the loss. Despite the obstinacy 
of the Pope, Henry resolved to proceed with his 
coronation and consecration. Rheims, the ordinary 
place for this great ceremonial, being in the hands 
of the Leaguers, Chartres was fixed upon in its 
stead. The vial of holy oil with which Clovis and 
his successors had been anointed was also in the 
hands of the enemy, but it was remembered that 
another flask of oil of almost equal antiquity and 
holiness, which it was believed that an angel had of 
old brought down from heaven for the healing of 
St. Martin, was preserved in the Abbey of Marmon- 
tiers at Tours. This was sent for, and escorted 
with all the pomp of a solemn procession to Char- 
tres. The costliest preparations had been made ; 
the order of all preceding coronations was care- 
fully observed, and never on any like occasion had 
there been a more magnificent pageant than that 
which graced the day (27th February 1594) when, 
within the Cathedral of Chartres, the Iving, mag- 
nificently attired, sat down upon the throne that 
had been erected before the altar, and upon that 
brow, which Tope Sixtus V. had declared was es- 
pecially made for it, the crown of Charlemagne was 

HEXET IV. 291 

set. There was but one thing to tarnish the splen- 
dor of the spectacle. It was when Henry placed 
his hand upon the Holy Evangel, and adopting the 
old coronation oath, swore to root out from the 
land placed under his jurisdiction all heretics de- 
nounced by the church ; an oath he never meant 
to keep, that he had in fact resolved to violate. 
All of outward form that ancient usage had pre- 
scribed to mark the assumption of royal power hav- 
ing been completed by the hands and under the 
sanction of the Gallic hierarchy the popular and 
practical recognition of Henry's sovereignty rapid- 
ly extended. In the eyes of a great majority of the 
nation his adoption of the Roman Catholic religion 
had removed the only obstacle that lay in the way 
of that recognition. Immediately after that event 
a truce for three months was agreed to between the 
Leaguers and Henry ; and so tired was the com- 
munity of its thirty years of intestine strife, that 
even in Paris (which Mayenne still held) the desire 
had become general that this truce should termi- 
nate in a general and lasting peace. 

The old priestly agitators, thrown now into 
stricter alliance than ever with Spain, did their best 
to stir up the community to reject to the last, and 
in all circumstances. Henry's title to the crown. The 
pen, however, was lifted now against the pulpit. 
During the three months' truce, while the sword 
was idle, Paris was deluged with pamphlets ; nor 
did the trenchant sword of Henrv ever inflict a 


deeper wound upon the League than that now given 
by the stinging satire Menippee. The truce however 
expired without any settlement of affairs. Henry, 
whose eyes ever turned longingly towards it, ap- 
proached the capital with his army. Feelinghis posi- 
tion there insecure, Mayenne retired to Soissons, 
leaving Paris in the hands of the Spanish garrison 
and of the faction of the Leaguer demagogues. The 
governor of the city, suspected of loyalist leanings, 
was deposed, and Count Brissac, who had shown such 
zeal against Henry III. on the day of the Barricades, 
was installed in his stead. He had a brother-in-law, 
St. Luc, in Henry's camp, through whom he enter- 
ed into secret correspondence with the King. Like 
many others, Brissac, who had got thoroughly tired 
of acting the part of a rebel, resolved to do an act 
that should at once place him among the most val- 
ued servants of the Crown. The two brothers-in- 
law had meetings outside the city walls, ostensibly 
to settle a painful pecuniary difference that existed 
between them. To avoid suspicion they never met 
alone, and parted always apparently in greater 
wrath than ever with one another. Nevertheless 
they contrived, under cover of their angry alterca- 
tions, to concoct the plan and arrange all the terms 
upon which Brissac was to put Henry and his army 
in possession of the capital. The night of the 22d 
March 1594 was fixed upon for the great coup d'etat. 
Late on the evening of that day, Brissac assembled 
the leading Royalists of the city, told them that he 

HENRY IV. 293 

had confided the particulars of a plan, which was to 
be executed that night, to a few chosen friends then 
present, whom he named, and asked them whether 
they would follow their leader when the time for 
action came. They at once and unanimously con- 
sented. "Without any further resolutions made to it, 
the meeting broke up, on the understanding that 
they were to hold themselves ready and armed all 
through the hours of the coming night. It was not 
possible, however, to prevent all treachery. The 
Duke of Feria, the Spanish Ambassador, got private 
notice that about midnight some great Royalist con- 
spiracy was to explode. He despatched a messenger 
requesting the presence of the Governor at his hotel. 
The Governor at once complied. The Duke in- 
formed him of the report. Brissac made light of it, 
and proposed to make himself a round of the ram- 
parts and see that all was safe. So satisfactory a 
proposal could not well be rejected, but a Spanish 
guard was sent along with the Governor, whose 
officers had private instructions given them, that on 
the least sign of treason on Brissac' s part, they were 
to poniard him on the spot. Through the city, 
along and round the walls, they marched, Brissac 
conversing in the most unembarrassed wav with the 
Spaniards. All was silent and secure. The dreaded 
midnight hour went by. It was two o'clock in the 
morning before the Governor got quit of his sus- 
picious attendants. They parted however from him 
at last, the Spaniards satisfied that all for that night 


at least was safe. Brissac lost no time in perfect- 
ing his plans and issuing his orders. As the clock 
struck four, two strong companies seized upon and 
threw open the Porte Neuve and the Porte St. 
Denis, and so silently, so rapidly, with such admi- 
rable preconcerted order did the royal troops pour 
into the city, that in half-an-hour all the most im- 
portant positions in it were occupied. The King him- 
self, who had been waiting for the appointed signal 
outside the Tuileries, entered unarmed, and was re- 
ceived by Brissac at that same gate which, six years 
before, he had shut against Henry III. in his flight 
from the capital. The inhabitants of Paris awoke 
that morning to see the King, surrounded by a bril- 
liant staff, riding quietly along the Rue St. Honore, 
his army in full possession of the city. A company 
of Germans had, in the first instance, resisted, and 
about sixty of them had been cut down, but that 
was nearly all the blood that the occupation of Paris 
had cost. The Spanish garrison, composed of about 
4000 men, lay motionless in its quarters. Henry 
let the Duke of Feria know that they were at lib- 
erty to depart with all the honors of war and a 
safe conduct to the frontier, provided they left Paris 
that afternoon, an offer too generous to be refused. 
Preserving still his Spanish dignity, the Duke 
made answer that he had been sent by his master 
to protect tin's people from the King, and since they 
had submitted he would except the offer that had 
been made. The people had more than submitted. 

HENRY IV. 295 

At first the crowds that filled the streets had gazed 
upon the unexpected scene with silent astonish- 
ment, but as the King proceeded, before going to 
the Louvre, to give thanks for his success in the 
cathedral of Notre Dame, the liveliest acclama- 
tions of " Yive le Koi ! " broke out on every side. 
And when he alighted to enter the sacred edifice, 
the pressure around him became so great that the 
captain of the guard had to drive the people back 
and open a passage for the King. " No, no," said 
Henry, in great good-humor, " I am quite content 
to be knocked about a little that they may see me 
all the better ; they're starving to see a king." " An 
old woman of about eighty," he wrote afterwards, 
when himself describing the scene, " took hold of 
me by the head to kiss me. I was not the last to 
laugh at it." The Te Deum duly celebrated, Henry 
returned to the Louvre, where all had been prepared 
for the mid-day repast, according to the old royal 
custom. It was like a dream to him to seat him- 
self at the head of that table at which, in his earlier 
years, he had so often sat a guest, while Catherine 
de Medicis and one or other of her sons did the 
royal honors. By this time all the shops had been 
opened ; complete order reigned. Faithful to the 
orders given, the soldiery had abstained from com- 
mitting a single act of violence. Two citizens only 
had fallen in the first confusion of the morning 
entrance. " Were it in my power," said Henry, 
" I would buy back those two lives with 50,000 


crowns, to have the satisfaction of saying that I 
had taken Paris without a single drop of French 
blood being shed." At two o'clock Henry repaired 
to a window that overlooked the Porte St. Denis, 
through which the Spanish garrison was to defile in 
taking its departure. The Duke of Feria, seeing the 
King, raised his hat and made a slight and somewhat 
haughty salute in passing. Too happy to stand 
upon any ceremony, Henry waved his hat to him in 
reply, and said, " Present my best respects to your 
master, but do not trouble yourselves, gentlemen, to 
come back here again." The King's clemency was 
unbounded. It was a saying of his, " The satisfac- 
tion that one gets from revenge lasts but a moment ; 
that which clemency yields is eternal." All was 
now to be forgiven, forgotten. From the public 
records, from all public places, every unpleasant 
memorial of the past was erased. A general amnesty 
was proclaimed. With the exception of dismissing 
from the city a few of the most turbulent partisans, 
Henry received all back ink his favor as if no 
offence had been committed. All hastened to take 
the oath of allegiance to the King. The Sorbonne 
itself issued its allocution, declaring that, as the 
legitimate heir of the throne, Henry should be ac- 
knowledged and obeyed, notwithstanding the Pope's 
refusal to absolve an allocution directly in the 
teeth of one which, live years before, the same body 
had given forth. One party only in all the city 
refused to follow the general example. The Jesuits 

HEXRY IV. 297 

would not take the oath of allegiance, nor would 
they pray for Henry as their lawful King till he had 
been acknowledged as such by the head of the 
Church. In the name of the Uniyersity a process 
against them that had been suspended for thirty 
yean was reyiyed, and a petition praying for their 
expulsion from the kingdom, as enemies of the States 
and spies and allies of Spain, was laid before the 
Parliament. That Court, however, was not prepared 
to take at once so extreme a course, and after many 
heated debates the discussion on this petition was 
indefinitely adjourned. The Jesuits were exulting 
in what they regarded as a victory. A tragic inci- 
dent turned that victory into a defeat. One evening 
in December (159-t), the King had returned to Paris 
from a short tour in the provinces; a crowd of 
corn-tiers awaited his entrance into the reception- 
room. Henry was in the act of stooping to raise a 
gentleman who had bent the knee on being pre- 
sented, when a youth who had glided into the com- 
pany unperceived, and had made his way close up 
to the King, struck at him with a knife. The 
blow was aimed at the throat, but owing to the 
movement made by Henry at the moment it fell 
upon the mouth, cutting through the upper lip. 
The youth was instantly arrested, gave his name as 
Jean Chastel, acknowledged that he was a pupil of the 
Jesuits, and that it was from them that he had 
learned that it would be not only a lawful but 
a meritorious act to kill the King. At first, as 


being but little injured, Henry was for letting him 
escape ; but when he heard his confession about 
his connection with the Jesuits, the recent pro- 
cess against that Order rushed into his memory, 
and, unable even at such a moment to restrain his 
pleasantry, " Ah ! " said he, " other lips have told 
me that these Jesuits hate me, but now I feel it in 
my own. It's by my mouth then that they are to 
be convicted." I was even so, for not only did the 
poor youth whom they had initiated into their doc- 
trine of regicide pay the terrible penalty of his 
attempt by being torn to pieces by horses, but such 
a storm of public indignation was raised that the 
Parliament no longer hesitated, but banished the 
whole Order from France. The King, ever quick 
to catch at such opportunities, took advantage of 
the excitement thus created, to get the Parliament 
to re-establish the edict of 1577 in favor of the 
Huguenots a measure unsatisfactory to them, as 
coming so much short of their demands and expecta- 
tions, and offensive to those Catholic lords who saw 
in it a violation of the promise that Henry made 
on the demise of the late monarch, yet running in 
the line of that policy which in religious matters 
Henry had wisely resolved to pursue. 

The submission of Paris was followed by that of 
Rouen, Meaux, Orleans, Toulouse, Amiens, and oth- 
er leading towns of the kingdom. " Paris is well 
worth a Mass," the King had said, and the Mass won 
for him many cities besides the capital. Many, too, 

HENRY IV. 299 

of the leading Leaguer chiefs, Yitri, Yillars, La Chas- 
tre, Yilleroi, passed over, or were bought over, to the 
King's side. Thirty-two millions of li vres were spent 
by Henry in this way. " Well," said he one day in 
the Louvre, to one of his old antagonists who had 
made a very profitable transfer of his services to 
him, " AVhat do you think of seeing me in Paris as I 
now am ? " " Sire," said the ex-Secretary Nicholas, 
"I say it is the giving to Caesar the things that are 
Caesar's," u Ventre St. Gris ! n exclaimed the King, 
turning to Brissac ; " he did not give the things to 
Caesar he sold them, and made a good bargain of 
it too." The terms, indeed, were so favorable upon 
which the King entertained every offer of reconcilia- 
tion, and so little prospect now remained of any thing 
like successful resistance to his authority, that before 
the end of the year 1 594 the young Duke of Guise 
and the Duke of Lorraine had both been received as 
servants of the Crown. Mayenne, however, and 
his brother, the Duke of Mercoeur, still held out, 
in the hope that the success of Spanish arms or of 
Spanish diplomacy might raise them to some higher 
and more independent position than any which, as 
subjects of the French monarchy, they could reach. 
Philip, indeed, had now given up the hope of 
placing his daughter on the throne of France ; but 
he had done so only to fall back upon his earlier 
project of fomenting divisions in France, and try- 
ing to dismember that kingdom. Many towns in 
the north and west of France were still garrisoned 


by Spanish troops, and Mayenne and Mercoeur had 
still a considerable French following. Henry, how- 
ever, was so successful in the summer campaign 
of 1594, having taken Laon after a protracted siege, 
and notwithstanding the utmost efforts of the 
Spaniards under Count Mansfield to relieve it, that, 
contrary to the advice of his wisest counsellors, he 
published in January 1595 a declaration of war 
against Spain. Philip gave immediate and peremp- 
tory order to his lieutenants to punish the audacity 
of the Bourbon. Henry was at Dijon when he 
learned that a formidable Spanish army under Velas- 
co, the Constable of Castile, had marched to invade 
France, and was already close upon the frontier. 
He set off with a few hundred horse to make a re- 
connaissance of the army. In the neighborhood of 
Fontaine Francaise the scouts whom he had sent 
forward came suddenly in front of the entire Span- 
ish force, and were driven back upon the King. 
Henry was so taken by surprise that he had not 
time to put on his armor. Those near him, look- 
ing at the overwhelming force that was driving the 
fugitives before it, advised him at once to fly, point- 
ing to a swift Turkish horse that stood at hand. 
" It is not your advice," exclaimed the King, " it is 
your assistance that I need," as he threw himself 
among the fugitives. He rallied them, charged 
back upon the enemy, scattered in turn three or 
four squadrons of their cavalry, each three or four 
times more numerous than his own ; ending one of 

HENRY IV. 301 

the closest, deadliest conflicts in which he ever 
had been engaged, by drawing off his men in safety 
from the field. " Elsewhere," he said himself, " it 
was for victory that I fonght, but there for life." 
" Haranbnre," he wrote, " hang yourself that you 
were not found at my side in a combat that we 
have had with the enemy which we fought like 
madmen." 1 The result was extraordinary. In a 
letter to De Mornay describing the conflict, Henry- 
says, u Less than 200 horse have put to flight 2000, 
and hindered an army of 10,000 foot and 2000 horse 
from entering mv kingdom."' It was on Henrv's 
part the folly of D'Aumale acted over again, and 
Yelasco acted over again the part of Parma. Early 
in the fight Mayenne had recognized the King, and 
urged it on the Constable to order a general advance 
of the whole army. Velasco, overcome by caution, 
not only resisted all the Duke's importunity, but, 
under the impression that the entire French army 
was at hand to support the King, he hastily re-cr fe- 
ed the Saone, and, without striking another blow, 
left Franche Comte open to the King's army. 
Mayenne in disgust parted from the Spanish camp. 
The success which crowned Henry's efforts in 
the field, and the growing accessions to the num- 
ber of his adherents, were not perhaps without their 
influence upon the pope. Clement besides had got 
alarmed at the independent attitude assumed by 

1 Recueil, etc., vol. iv p. 375. * lb., p. 372. 


the Gallican Church, which it was not impossible 
might throw off the Papal yoke. Whatever were his 
motives, the Pope began now to show no less eager- 
ness to be reconciled with the French monarch than 
he had shown obstinacy in remaining alienated 
from him. The negotiations, opened at his sugges- 
tion, were brought to a satisfactory conclusion ; and 
on the 17th April 1595, in a ceremonial which all 
that Papal skill and experience in that department 
could do to render imposing was done, Clement 
publicly absolved Henry, and received him as an 
accepted and beloved son of the Church. The con- 
ditions of the reception were mainly these the res- 
toration of Catholicism in Beam, the education of 
the Prince of Conde, the heir-presumptive to the 
throne, in the Romish faith, the restoration to 
the Church of Rome of all its property, and the 
preference of Catholics in the distribution of all 
the honors and offices of the State. Henry would 
not consent as the Pope wished that his absolution 
by the French prelates should be declared null and 
void. lie would not acknowledge that the Papal 
excommunication from which he had been relieved 
carried any other than an exclusively spiritual char- 
acter and effect. He would neither ask nor take 
any investiture with royal rights from the hands 
of the Holy Father, and he would not engage to 
violate or reverse the edict passed in favor of the 
Huguenots. Clement y'elded in all these points 
to the resolution of the lving, and in so doing made 

HENRY IV. 303 

it clear how much lower ground the Papacy con- 
sented to occupy compared with that which it had 
occupied in the palmy days of Gregory VII. and 
Innocent III. 

All the fresh spirit and strength that this public 
reconciliation with Rome could give was needed 
to sustain the King under the reverses that hap- 
pened to his arms in Picardv. Fuentes, the ablest 
Spanish general that had risen to take the place of 
Parma, had defeated the French army opposed to 
him. Yillars and d'Humeires, two of the bravest 
of Henry's officers, had fallen, and the towns of Le 
Chatelet, Dourlens, and Cambrai had been taken 
by the Spaniards. Henry heard of these disasters 
at Lyons, and hastened northward to repair them. 
He reached Paris in October. The Parliament de- 
puted some of its leading members to wait upon him. 
The King replied to their condolences and congrat- 
ulations in very animated terms. " You admonish 
me," he said, " that I hazard my life too freely ; but, 
gentlemen, unless I lead, I perceive that nobody 
follows. If I had money to pay an extra regiment 
or two of regulars, my life would not be so often in 
peril. What I want, therefore, is money ; and this 
want the edicts that will be presented to you to- 
morrow must supply. If you accept them willingly 
I shall be infinitely obliged to you : first, for your 
ready concession to my wishes ; secondly, because 
my life will not be so often in danger. I am in ex- 
cellent health. I came here at a trot, and I mean 


to go off at a gallop. I want nothing but money. 
Help me, therefore, and you will soon have the as- 
surance that never have you had a better King than 
myself." "With such help of this kind as he could 
extract from the pockets of its good citizens, Henry 
set off from Paris. He reached Amiens, not a little 
fatigued at the galloping pace at which he travelled. 
At the gate of the town he found a city orator wait- 
ing to inflict upon him a harangue in the shape of an 
address from the municipality. " O King ! " said 
the orator, " so very great, so very clement, so very 
magnanimous " " Ay," said Henry, interupting 
him, " and just add, ' so very tired.' I am going to 
rest at present, and will hear the remainder from you 
some other time." The authorities escorted the 
King to the house that had been fitted up for his 
reception. The dinner stood upon the table, and the 
King, as hungry as he was tired, was just sitting down 
to the repast, when another deputation entered to bid 
him welcome to the city. " Sire," said this new ha- 
ranguer, " Hannibal, when parting from Carthage " 
" O ventre St. Gris ! " said Henry, " Hannibal part- 
ing from Carthage had dined,, and I have that yet 
to do." And so that piece of eloquence also was 
cut short. 

The winter campaign of 1595-96 began by the 
siege of La Fere, a small but strongly fortified town 
which served as an advanced post to the Spaniards 
in Picardy. This siege began in November, and 
the place was not reduced till March. It was dur- 

HENRY IV. 305 

ing its course that Mayenne at last accepted the 
generous offers of Henry, and in attaching himself 
to the King linked himself to the fortunes of his 
country in its conflict with Spain. It was in Jan- 
uary 1596, while the King was living at Monceaux 
en Brie, that Mayenne arrived to make his submis- 
sion in p.erson. Henry was walking in the grounds 
of the chateau when the Duke presented himself. 
Mayenne bent the knee, and was beginning in very 
formal terms to thank his Majesty for his bounty, 
and for having delivered him from the arrogance 
of the Spaniard, when Henry embraced him with 
the greatest cordiality, grasped his hand, and set 
off with him at a rapid pace to show him all the 
improvements that he was making in the gardens. 
The poor Duke, who was exceedingly fat and fond 
of ease spending more time, as the pope used to 
say, at his dinner than Henry spent in his bed 
was hurried along, limping, panting, blowing. 
" Tell the truth, cousin," said the King to him at 
last, after he had given him a thorough heat, " don't 
T go somewhat too fast for you ? " " Indeed, Sire," 
said the duke, " you do ; and if you go any further 
with me at this rate I'll expire." Bursting into a 
hearty laugh, and holding out his hand to Mayenne, 
" There's my hand for you : take it, my cousin, and 
believe me that's the only punishment it ever will 
inflict on you." And it was the only revenge taken 
for all the wrongs done him by the last head of the 


Early in the spring of 1596 one of the largest 
Spanish armies that had ever crossed the French 
frontier mustered under the command of the new 
governor of the Pays Bas, the Cardinal Archduke 
Albert. The declared object of its movements was 
to raise the siege of La Fere. Henry gathered all 
the forces he could command at St. Quentin and 
prepared to meet the danger. A battle under the 
walls of La Fere appeared inevitable. Suddenly, 
however, the Spanish army, leaving La Fere to its 
fate, wheeled westward, and by a rapid and unlook- 
ed-for march threw itself upon Calais, which in a 
week or two it forced to surrender. The loss of 
this important seaport, taken before his eyes and 
notwithstanding every effort on his part to succor 
it, fell heavy upon the heart of the King. That 
heart, however, was not one to sink beneath any such 
calamity. "Well, my friends," he said upon this oc- 
casion, " Calais is taken ; but we must not lose cour- 
age, since it is in the midst of afflictions that brave 
men become braver, and strengthen themselves 
with new hopes. It is the fortune of war to lost at 
one time and gain at another. Our enemies have 
had their turn, and, by God's help, we shall have 
ours. Let us not then give way to murmuring or 
complaint, nor cast blame on any one. Rather let 
us do honor to the memory of the dead, and let us 
apply ourselves to find out the means that this place 
may remain in the hands of the Spaniards only as 
many days as our ancestors left it years in the hands 

HEXRT IV. 307 

of the English." Knowing how much the passing of 
Calais into the hands of her greatest enemy would 
annoy Elizabeth, Henry despatched an ambassador 
to her, asking her aid in the retaking of it. Elizabeth 
ventured to propose, as a condition of that aid being 
given, that Calais should be garrisoned by her troops. 
" Madame," wrote Henry to her, " I have received 
our letter, delivered by M. de Sidney, and have 
also listened to the proposals which he was charged 
by you to make. These demands I deem so un- 
seemly, and so contrary to the sincere friendship 
which I have ever met with from your Majesty, that 
I would fain persuade myself that they have been in- 
spired by those who understand not the promptings 
of your spirit. . . . Permit me, Madame, to believe, 
despite the communication which I have received, 
that you disdain to measure your friendship by the 
standard of your self-interest and gain, even on this 
supreme occasion, when the urgency of affairs is so 
great that no time may be lost in negotiation." " 
Elizabeth felt the dignified rebuke, professed to have 
been misunderstood, and, overcoming the ill-humor 
she had manifested at Henry's abjuration, concluded 
along with the United Provinces, a new and closer 
treaty with France, in which the contracting parties 
bound themselves to mutual succor against the com- 
mon enemy. Calais, however, was not retaken. The 
Spaniards not only continued to hold it, but suc- 
ceeded in reducing and retaining Guesnes and Arras. 

1 Recueil, etc., vol. iv. p. 573. 


It was but a poor compensation to Henry when J A 
Fere at last capitulated (16th May 1596). Famine 
and pestilence now broke up his army, and hindered 
him from making any further effort to retrieve his 
losses. The military chest had got exhausted, and 
he had tried in vain to replenish it. On asking his 
Council for a very moderate sum with which to 
undertake the siege of Arras, he was told it was abso- 
lutely impossible to get it. The condition to which 
the King himself was reduced at this time was piti- 
able. " I am near the enemy," he writes, " and I 
have scarcely a horse to ride or a suit of armor to 
put on. My shirts are all torn ; my coat is out at 
the elbows ; my pot is often empty, these last flew 
days I have dined with one or other of my friends, 
my purveyors telling me that they had no longer 
the means of supplying my table." 

It was full time for Henry to look into the state 
of the public finances. They were in a truly deplor- 
able condition. Besides the ordinary expenditure, 
heightened by such constant war, the vast sums paid 
to Leaguer chiefs and Leaguer towns to win back 
their allegiance had utterly drained the treasury. All 
this however it might have stood, had it not been for 
the enormous abuses that had crept into the adminis- 
tration of the public funds. Such an extensive and 
complicated system of peculation had been carried on 
that not a half, in some instances not a third, in some 
not even a fourth, part of the sums actually levied 
reached their destination. The prompters of these 

HEN'RT IV. 309 

peculations were so many, and of such high rank 
and power, that it seemed difficult to touch the 
evil or apply any effective remedy. Nevertheless, 
if the Monarchy was to he upheld that must be 
done, and Henry resolved to do it. The task was 
committed to Rosny, and never was hand better 
fitted for such a task than his. Clear-headed, cool- 
hearted, quick to detect abuse, prompt in devising 
the remedy, constant and indomitable in the appli- 
cation of it ; short, and dry, and reserved in his 
address, yet with enough of the courtier about him 
to give no needless offence ; imperturbable, impen- 
etrable, incorruptible, inaccessible to flattery ; deaf 
to the voice of emotions ; with an inborn taste and 
talent for calculation, a wonderful capacity for 
work, and a quiet, steady, unwearying and unbend- 
ing energy, there met in Sully all the qualities re- 
quired in the man who was to deal successfully 
with such a thick and tangled forest of financial 
abuses, that incarnate genins of economy that 
was in him obeying but one spirit higher and 
greater than itself, the one great ruling passion of 
a sincere and unbounded attachment to the King. 
It was Henry's good fortune that there was a man 
so qualified for the work that had to be done within 
his reach. It proved his own possession of a kin- 
dred capacity, that he soon discovered and so en- 
tirely trusted him, and it redounds to the honor 
both of monarch and of minister, that the one gave 
himself up with such a thorough devotedness to 


the service of his royal master, and that that master 
so fully understood and so thoroughly appreciated 
the service that was rendered. 

Sully's first trial of his hand in the executive de- 
partment for it was by slow degrees he rose to 
power was when a preliminary inquiry into the 
state of matters all over the realm was resolved 
upon, and the inspection of four districts of the 
country was assigned to him. He returned from 
his financial tour with 500,000 crowns in solid 
cash, four times the amount the King had asked 
for carrying on the siege of Arras these 500,000 
crowns not extorted from the taxpayers, not the 
produce of the taxation, but the amount of detected 
and admitted defalcations in the payment of those 
by whom the taxes had been farmed. The evidence 
that this single instance supplied convinced the 
King that many radical reforms were needed ; but 
how were these to be carried out ? It might have 
been by convoking the Estates-General of the king- 
dom, and committing to them a function like to that 
now exercised by our own House of Commons by 
putting the imposition and administration of all the 
public funds into the hands of the representatives of 
the people. Henry was not prepared to take such a 
step to initiate in such a way free representative 
institutions in France. Afraid to call together the 
Estates-General lest some invasion inijrht be at- 
tempted by them on the royal prerogatives, he satis- 
fied himself with summoning to Rouen about 150 

HENRY IV. 311 

persons of distinction, to constitute, along with the 
ordinary counsellors of the Crown, what was desig- 
nated as the Assembly of Xotables. The Assembly 
met in October 1596. Henry in opening it said, 
" If I wished to earn the title of an orator I should 
have learned by heart some fine and showy harangue, 
the which I should have pronounced with becoming 
gravity. My ambition soars to a higher distinction. 
I covet the glorious titles of Liberator and Restorer 
of this realm. In order to attain this end I have 
assembled you. You know to your cost, as I know 
to mine, that when God called me to this Crown I 
found France not only half ruined, but also quite 
lost to Frenchmen. By Divine favor, by the 
prayers and counsels of those among my good ser- 
vants not called to the profession of arms, by the 
swords of my valiant and generous noblesse, and by 
my own incredible toils and labors, I have saved 
France from outward enemies. Let us now save 
this France of ours from financial ruin. Participate 
with me, my dear subjects, in this second triumph, 
as you have already shared in the first. I have not 
assembled you after the fashion of my predecessors 
to confirm my fiats, but I have called you to listen 
to your counsels, to follow your advice ; in short, to 
place myself under your tutelage, a resolve which 
has seldom actuate 1 kings who like myself had gray 
beards and were conquerors." 

The Assembly proceeded to acquit itself of the 
task thus generously assigned to it. Estimating the 


revenue required for all purposes of State at thirty 
million of livres, it proposed that the raising and 
application of one half of this sum should be com- 
mitted to the King and his Council to meet the ex- 
penses of the royal house and of the army and navy, 
and that the raising and application of the other 
half should be committed to a new Council to be 
chosen, in the first instance, by this Assembly of 
Notables, and afterwards by the great courts of the 
kingdom. As the current income fell short of the 
required one, to meet the deficiency they proposed 
that a new tax of a sou per pound on all articles of 
merchandise indiscriminately should be levied. 
Sully advised the King to adopt the measure; 
choosing for his half of the revenue the one most 
easily raised, and committing the administration 
of the other half, and especially the levying of 
this new impost, which he foresaw would be both 
unpopular and unproductive, to the newly estab- 
lished Council. Henry adopted the advice, and it 
ended as the sagacious counsellor had foreseen. 
The affair became speedily unmanageable, the new 
tax had to be given up, the new Council dissolved, 
and the entire control of the public revenue return- 
ed into the hands of the King, to be lodged by him 
in the hands of Sully himself. 

From Itouen Henry returned to Paris, and gave 
himself up to the festivities of the capital. A 
luxurious entertainment, described minutely by 
L'Etoile, was given by the Constable De Montmor- 

HENRY IV. 313 

ency to celebrate the baptism of his son and heir 
12th March 1597). The day was dawning before 
the King returned from the banquet to the Louvre. 
He had retired to unrobe when a courier with a 
despatch from the Governor of Picardy was usher- 
ed into his chamber. The despatch bore that the 
town of Amiens had been taken, and was in posses- 
sion of the Spaniard. The way from the frontier 
to the capital lay open to the enemy. The blow 
fell like a thunderbolt upon the King. " Those 
miserable men of Amiens," he said to Sully, as, 
half-dressed, with his hands behind his back, he 
paced impatiently up and down his chamber, " have 
ruined themselves and me, but by the help of God 
we will yet prevail. I have played too long the 
King of France ; it is time to play once more the 
King of Navarre. Five hours afterwards, the 
Louvre, Gabrielle d'Estrees, and all the fascinations 
of the capital were forsaken, and the hero of Na- 
varre was on his way to meet the enemy. It had 
been by an ingenious stratagem that has been often 
practised that the Spanish Governor of Dourlens, 
Portocarrero, had got possession of Amiens. A 
wagon of straw, behind which a number of soldiers 
disguised as peasants with bags of walnuts on their 
backs, driving into the city, stopped under the 
portcullis. One of the peasants let fall the sack he 
carried, so that its contents were poured upon the 
ground. While the city guard were scrambling for 
the scattered walnuts, a pistol-shot was fired, the 


peasants threw off their disguise, and an ambus- 
cade that awaited the signal rushed to their support. 
In vain the sentinel let fall the portcullis; the 
wagon with its high load was then beneath it ; in 
vain the citizens flew to arms : an overpowering 
force swarmed through the gate into the city, and 
Amiens was taken. The King sprang to recapture 
it. His military ardor communicated itself to the 

A splendid army, in which we find 4000 Eng- 
lish soldiers, sat down before the city. The siege 
lasted all the summer months. It was not till Sep- 
tember that the Archduke attempted the relief. 
He brought with him a force greatly superior to 
that under Henry's command. The King resolved 
to do as he had done at Arques to keep within 
the entrenchments that he had thrown up. A single 
attempt to force his position was made by the Span- 
iards. The effect was such that, without striking 
a second stroke, in haste and fear, as before a vic- 
torious and pursuing foe, the vast army of the Arch- 
duke retreated and left Amiens to its fate. It was 
in the height of his triumph that the King wrote 
the note misquoted and misdated by Voltaire : 
" Hang yourself, brave Crillon, for not having 
been near me on Monday last at the finest encoun- 
ter which has ever been seen, or perhaps will ever 
be witnessed again. Believe me, I longed much 
for you. The Cardinal came on very furiously, 
but he has gone off very sneakingly. I hope on 

HENRY IV. 315 

Thursday next to be in Amiens. I shall not stay 
long inactive, as I have now one of the finest armies 
imaginable. [Nothing is wanting but the presence 
of the brave Crillon, who will always be welcome. 
Adieu. From the camp before Amiens, 20th Sep- 
tember 1597." l 

Amiens capitulated on the 25th, and the King 
instantly turned the tine army of which he was so 
proud against the only Leaguer chief who was still 
in arms against him. So long as Henrv had other 
and more powerful enemies to contend with, he 
had left the war in Brittany with the Duke of Mer- 
cceur to be conducted by one or other of his lieu- 
tenants. But when the Duke saw the royal army 
led on by the King in person now ready to be 
launched at him, it appeared very clear to him that 
his time for submission had come. And he had a 
clever wife, who saw even clearer and further than 
he did. Since they could not, as it now appeared, 
even with Spanish aid, acquire the independent 
sovereignty of Sedan, why not marry their only 
daughter and heiress to the King's eldest son by 
Gabrielle d'Estrees, and so protect the family in- 
heritance from royal grasp? The proposal was 
grateful to Gabrielle, who at this time was full of 
hope that on Marguerite de Yalois being divorced 
she would be acknowledged as Queen. Henry 
heartily acquiesced, as it gave his son, whom he had 
already placed in the first order of the peerage, a 
1 BecueU, etc., vol. iv. p. 848. 


heritage to sustain his title. The articles of con- 
tract were drawn up and the treaty signed which 
left Henry without an enemy in arms, and closed 
the long and bloody civil wars by which France 
during the course of nearly forty years had been 

While the laurels won at Amiens were yet fresh 
upon his brow, Henry resolved to accomplish another 
work, which has gained him a more imperishable 
renown. At his accession, the Huguenots, over 
whom the oppressive Edicts of 1585 and 1588 were 
still legally impending, besought his interference on 
their behalf. He revoked the obnoxious Edicts, but 
in the way of legal enactment did nothing more on 
their behalf. It was doing but little for those by 
whose help he had mounted to the throne, and who 
had been so prodigal of their lives in his service, to 
make their position in the State as good but no 
better than it had been under the reign of any of 
his predecessors. Still however lie had it at first to 
say to them that they did not need enactments in 
their favor when a Prince of their own faith was 
upon the throne. But his abjuration changed that 
state of matters. It turned the confidence of the 
Huguenots into jealousy and suspicion. The public 
oaths that he took to exterminate them filled them 
not unnaturally with alarm. They met both in 
synod and political assembly, and organized them- 
selves as perfectly as they could. Prepared to find 
in their former chief a foe, they showed the same 

HENRY IV. 317 

determined front they had ever shown. Henry in his 
turn was annoyed at their suspicions, and irritated 
at the self-protective measures they took. He had 
really no intention to interfere with their existing 
liberties, he was ready even legally to ratify and ex- 
tend them ; but he had to proceed cautiously ; he was 
watched by those who were ready to interpret every 
thing that he did in favor of his former friends into 
the evidence that he meant to prove false to the 
Catholicism he - had professed. For some time after 
his abjuration he did not feel his position strong 
enough to do more than re-establish the Edict of 
1579. It was but a scant security and a limited 
freedom that this measure gave to the Huguenots. 
Even such as it was they did not get the full benefit 
of it. By other and separate treaties which Henry 
had made with Leaguer chiefs and towns, the Re- 
formed faith was prohibited in districts where, under 
the edict, it should have been allowed. In many 
parts of the country, in open violation of the edict, 
the Huguenots were treated with the greatest harsh- 
ness. Their books were burned, their children torn 
from them in infancy to be educated in the Roman 
Catholic faith, their testamentary dispositions in 
favor of their families disputed and invalidated, 
their refusal to salute the Host punished as a civil 
offence, their very dead torn up out of the public 
burying-grounds and cast away as carrion. Tear 
after year they carried their complaints to Henry, 
but year after year they had to listen to the same 


reply the assurance of his personal friendship and 
his resolution to do his utmost for them so soon as 
his position was secure. In their impatience the 
Huguenots did injustice to the King ; and when at 
last his time of weakness and of danger came while 
it pleases us to hear of them shutting their ears as 
they did to those counsellors the chief men, too, of 
their party in rank and power, the Dukes of Bouillon 
and Tremouille who advised them to take up arms 
on their account and extract by force what they 
had failed to get by entreaty ; it pains us to see that 
at the siege of Amiens not a white scarf was to be 
seen. They should not have deserted their mon- 
arch in his hour of need. But Henry was not re- 
sentful. He knew what good reason they had to 
complain of the treatment they were receiving, 
what good right they had to expect protection at 
his hands. ISTo sooner therefore did victory crown 
his arms than one of the first exercises of that free- 
dom and power it gave was to sign at Nantes, on 
the 15th April 1598, that celebrated Edict which 
for eighty-seven years covered and protected the 
liberties of Protestantism in France. 1 

By this celebrated Edict, full liberty of conscience 
was guaranteed to all i. e., no man was any more to 
be persecuted or punished for his individual belief. 
Liberty of public worship was granted to the Re- 
formed in all places where it had been previously 

1 The Edict is fully given in Drion's Histoire Ghronolo- 
gique, pp, 208-258. 

HENRY IV. 319 

practised. Both the higher and lower nobility 
attached to the Keforaied faith were allowed to have 
private chapels in their residences ; but the lower 
were not to admit more than thirty persons to the 
service. The Reformed were held to be admissible 
to all offices and employments under the State all 
their civil disabilities were removed. The public 
schools, colleges, and hospitals were opened to them. 
Their children were to be protected, their testamen- 
tary dispositions held valid, disabilities on account of 
religious connection were prohibited, separate places 
of sepulture allowed. Mixed chambers, or courts 
composed in equal numbers of Catholics and Protest- 
ants, were instituted to try all cases in which Pro- 
testant interests were involved. As material guar- 
antees, a number of fortified towns, amounting 
finally to about 200, were put into the hands of the 
Huguenots, and a yearly subsidy was granted for 
the maintenance of the Protestant ministry a large 
and liberal measure, entitling Henry to be called 
the inaugurator of the reign of religious toleration 
in France; a larger and more liberal measure than 
any of the great Protestant kingdoms had at this 
time granted to their Roman Catholic subjects. The 
honorable precedence that France thus took was 
not owing to the greater advance of her population 
in the spirit of toleration, but to the determination 
of her King. Neither was that determination 
grounded on any profound and enlightened regard 
on Henry's part for the rights of the individual con- 


science. It was policy not principle ; it was his 
past experience of the evils of intolerance on both 
sides ; it was his desire to put an end to these evils 
and secure for his country the blessings of peace and 
concord, that regulated his conduct in this matter. 
He had the greatest difficulty in effecting this 
object. The Parliament of Paris refused to register 
the edict. The Parliaments of Bordeaux, Toulouse, 
Rouen followed its example. Rouen sent deputies 
to remonstrate with the King. They found him 
upon the floor of the room into which they were 
introduced, romping and rollicking with his chil- 
dren on his back. " I'm playing the fool," said he 
as they approached, " here with my children ; but 
I'm quite ready to play the wise man with you ; " 
and rising, he conducted them to an adjoining cham- 
ber. Their President made a long story of it 
quite too long for his hearer. The reply was brief: 
" I am your lawful sovereign. I am the head, my 
kingdom is the body, and you have the honor to be 
members. It is the office of the head to command 
and of the members to obey. I have made an edict ; 
I wish to see it executed, and however it be I must 
be obeyed." So spake he, in effect, to the deputies 
from all the Parliaments. He knew that nothing 
short of this would do, and he was thoroughly re- 
solved that the provisions of this edict should be 
executed. It was in favor of that very kind of lib- 
erty that we prize the most that the high hand of 
absolute and arbitrary power was thus employed. 

HEXRY IV. 321 

"We cannot however but regret that a measure in 
itself so wise and good owed its establishment to the 
exercise of such despotic authority. Ilenry no 
doubt succeeded when otherwise he might have 
failed ; but he did so by perfecting and putting into 
the hands of his successors the instrument which 
one of them employed in overturning that very 
edifice of religious toleration he had raised ; he did 
so, by planting the monarchy itself on that slippery 
edge over which at last it fell to be broken into 

So needful to France did entire repose appear, 
that Henry hailed these overtures now made to him 
through the Papal Legate. Philip IT., foiled in all 
his efforts, failing in strength, within a few months 
of death, at last was willing to lay down the sword. 
He found as great a willingness to do so on the 
part of the French monarch. The terms were not 
difficult of settlement when both parties were so 
bent on peace, and on the 2d of May 159S that 
Treaty was signed at Yervins which restored to 
France all the late Spanish conquests. B By the 
stroke of a pen." said Henry, " I have conquered 
more towns than I could have captured with the 
best swords of my realm in a long campaign." 
Within the short space of three months, the Treaty 
with the Duke of Mercceur, the Edict of Nantes, 
and the Peace of Yervins, three of the most im- 
portant measures of Henry's reign, were accom- 
plished. The civil and religious strifes were closed, 


the foreign yoke finally and fully thrown off, and 
an honorable peace established, which gave twelve 
years of tranquillity to France. 

One thing only the peace of Yervins left unset- 
tled. In the preceding troubles a small Italian appan- 
age, the Marquisate of Saluces, had been seized by 
Charles Emmanuel, Duke of Savoy, and remained 
still in his possession. The right of France to it was 
not disputed, did not admit indeed of dispute ; but 
the Duke was unwilling to part with what constitu- 
ted one of the keys of Italy. He came to Paris in 
December 1599 to negotiate the affair in person. 
Henry offered to exchange the Italian Marquisate 
for a much larger territory, embracing districts both 
on the northern and southern sides of the Alps, but 
the Duke was reluctant to make a transfer which 
would give the French a footing upon the Italian 
soil. After a two months' residence in it he left 
Paris, having signed an engagement that within 
three months he would either accept the French 
proposal or restore the Marquisate to its rightful 
owner. During his stay in the French capital he 
had contrived to sow the seeds of disaffection in the 
breast of more than one of the chief nobles. The 
overweening vanity, the haughty pride, the insatia- 
ble ambition of the Duke of Biron aid him particu- 
larly open to the wiles of the Savoyard. Charles 
Emmanuel, as son-in-law to Philip II., brother-in-law 
to the then reigning King of S t ain, was in strict 
alliance with the Spanish Court. The offer of the 

HENRY IV. 323 

hand of one of the Duke of Savoy's daughters, and 
of the support of Spain in erecting Burgundy, of 
which he was governor, into a separate and independ- 
ent principality, was too tempting for Biron, and 
he entered into treasonable correspondence with the 
Duke. Meanwhile the three months given to the 
Duke to decide expired, but he still kept hold of the 
Marquisate. "Wearied with delays, whose object 
was transparent, Henry at last had recourse to arms. 
Savoy was speedily overrun with French troops, and 
its chief strongholds taken. Spain was not prepared 
to back her ally, and the affair terminated by Hen- 
ry's accepting in lieu of the Marquisate that part of 
Savoy which now constitutes the Department of 
Aisne in France. The King had been made aware 
of Biron's traffickings with the Duke and with Fuen- 
tes, the Governor of Milan, one of France's bitterest 
enemies. The clue had been obtained through Lafin, 
a Frenchman whom Biron had employed as his con- 
fidential agent, and Renaze, Lafin's associate. Un- 
willing to believe the worst of his early friend and 
companion in arms, Henry sent for Biron, told him 
of the suspicions of his fidelity that had been ex- 
cited, advised him to have no more to do with Lafin, 
and warned him in the most solemn manner that 
crimes committed against the State private friend- 
ship could not overlook. Biron denied all, and 
heedless of this first warning renewed the corre- 
spondence with Fuentes. Again the King was in- 
formed of his infidelity, but this time Biron threw 


himself on the clemency of the King, and made 
partial acknowledgment of his guilt. Henry was 
moved to tears by the avowal, and readily forgave. 
It was not long however till Biron was again seduced, 
and became party to a treaty, the object of which 
was to renew the troubles in France and dethrone 
the reigning monarch. The Duke of Bouillon and 
the Count d'Auvergne, half brother of the Marquise 
de Verneuille, were more or less in vol ved with him in 
the plot, but managed to keep their participation in 
it less open to detection. Biron was at this time (the 
summer of 1601) sent as Ambassador to England. 
He was received with the most distinguished honors 
at the English Court, and admitted to many inter- 
views with Elizabeth. In one of these, at an open 
window from which the gibbet could be seen on 
which the head of Essex was impaled, the conver- 
sation turned upon the fate of the unfortunate Earl. 
Biron dropped some words indicating that in his 
judgment the sentence executed had been too severe. 
Elizabeth tired up at the implied censure of her con- 
duct. " He suffered righteously," she said to Biron, 
" and the King, my brother, would do well to act in 
Paris as I have done in London. He should deliver 
up to condign punishment every traitor and rebel of 
his realm. I pray Heaven that the clemency of 
your Prince may not be fatal to him. For myself, 
I never pardon any one who dares to disturb the 
peace of my realm." Ominous words, spoken in 
full knowledge of the rumors about Biron then rife 

HENRY IV. 325 

at the French Court. The fall evidence of the 
Marshal's guilt was at last placed in Henry's hand. 
Renaze had been thrown into prison in Italy, Latin 
had solicited Biron's intervention to have him de- 
livered, the Duke had refused, and Latin had turned 
traitor and revealed the whole. Remembering 
perhaps the early warning of his sovereign, Biron 
had commanded his agent to burn all the papers 
which in any way committed him. Latin pretend- 
ed to do so in Biron's presence, but carefully con- 
cealed them all. There was one peculiarly crimina- 
tory document, in Biron's own handwriting, which 
he had in his own possession : Latin suggested that 
it too should be consumed. The fatal paper was 
handed to him for this purpose ; dexterously hid- 
ing it, he crumbled up another piece of paper in 
its stead, which he flung into the fire. Latin 
presented all the letters and papers to Henry. 
The Marshal was summoned to Fontainebleau. He 
arrived there early in the morning of the 12th 
of January 1602. As he entered the palace Latin 
saluted him. and whispered in his ear as he passed, 
' Courage, my master, speak boldly." Biron had 
been previously assured by letter from himself that 
Latin had made no discoveries. He found the King 
walking in the garden. Henry passed his arm 
round the Marshal's neck, and embracing him said, 
" You have done well, my friend, to confide in me." 
The King at once told him why he had been sent 
for, and entreated him franklv to confess. The 


Marshal would confess nothing, had nothing to con- 
fess, was there not to justify himself, but to learn 
who were his accusers. That was the sole object 
of his journey. He dined with Epernon. The 
Duke told him of Lafin's treachery, and entreated 
him to throw himself upon the King's mercy. The 
Marshal was unmoved. Afterwards he was sent, 
for by the King, who, going back upon all the 
scenes of their early intimacy, conjured him to be 
open and to tell all. Under the fatal delusion that 
Henry, in absence of other evidence, was trying to 
entrap him into a confession, Biron was as haughty 
and inflexible as ever. At the King's instance 
the Count de Soissons invited Biron to supper, 
and assuring him that his Majesty was perfectly 
informed of his proceedings besought him to ac- 
knowledge his guilt. Next morning Henry asked 
him to join him in his walk. He had no other 
answer to give the King than that he had given 
the day before. As a last chance given Sully was 
despatched to wait upon Biron. " Tell him," said 
Henry, " that if he disguises nothing, I give you 
my royal word that I will, with all my heart, grant 
him a free pardon." Sully's entreaties were as 
fruitless as had been those of Epernon and Soissons. 
Biron by this time had got alarmed and given secret 
orders to have his horses saddled and sent out to 
meet him in the woods at midnight, that after quit- 
ting the royal circle, which he was to join at supper, 
he might effect his flight. A s he ascended the stair- 

HEXRY IV. 327 

case of the Palace, a note was put into his hand ; 
it told him that within three hours he would be 
arrested. He showed the note to his companion 
and laughed, as he passed on to the Queen's saloon. 
The King was playing at cards with her Majesty, 
and they invited Biron to join them in the game. 
As the clock struck eleven, Henry rose and led the 
Marshal aside. " My friend," said he, " you know 
that I have loved you ; confess your errors with 
your own lips, and, on the word of a king, whatever 
they may be, I will forgive ; but force me to prove 
your guilt publicly, and I will not, I swear to you, 
interfere with the. award of justice." Stubborn to 
the last, Biron demanded only that the names of his 
slanderers should be given up to him. " Well, 
Marshal," said Henry, " I see I can make nothing of 
you." He passed into his cabinet and closed the 
door. Yitry, the captain of the guard, who had 
been told to have all in readiness, was instantly sent 
for, and directed to arrest the Marshal as he left the 
room. In a few minutes the court, the corridor, the 
staircase, the antechamber were filled with soldiers. 
Henry re-entered the saloon and dismissed the circle. 
" Adieu, Baron Biron," he said, the title given tell- 
ing ominously of coming degradation, " remember 
what I said." In the antechamber the Marshal was 
arrested, and conveyed the next day to the Bastile. 
He remained sullenly defiant, till his own letters 
and papers were put into his hands, and he was 
confronted with Lafin. Then his spirit broke, but 


broke only to vent itself in frantic tirades against 
the wretch who had sworn snch solemn oaths to be 
faithful to him. " The testimony of so perfidious 
a villain was not," he said, " to be trusted for a mo- 
ment, and that if only Kenaze were there, he could 
convict Lafin of many falsehoods in the testimony 
he had given." Unfortunately for the Marshal, 
Renaze, having escaped somehow from prison, was 
there waiting to be brought in as a witness. His 
testimony confirmed all that Lafin had stated. 
Biron's defence of himself before the Parliament 
still remains, and is referred to as one of the finest 
pieces of judicial eloquence in the French tongue. 
It could not avail against the evidence that was ad- 
duced. On Monday, the 29th of July, he was 
doomed to be beheaded. The King was besieged 
with entreaties to spare his life ; but his resolution 
had been taken : justice must take its course. On 
Wednesday morning (the 31st), the Chancellor and 
other officials proceeded to the Bastile to inform 
the Marshal that the sentence would be executed 
that afternoon at five o'clock. He lost all self pos- 
session at the idea of dying such a degrading death. 
Now he raved at the Chancellor and his associates, 
charging them with the guilt of his condemnation, 
and summoning them all to appear before God one 
year thereafter to answer for their deed. Then he 
grasped Bellievre by the arm, pitiably exclaiming, 
" Must I die ? Is there no way of escape ? " After- 
wards, when somewhat calmed, one of his attend- 

HENRY rv. 329 

ants asked him how it came that he who had so 
often and so fearlessly faced death on the battle- 
field now trembled at his approach ? " My friend," 
6aid he, " then I looked at death, hut now death 
looks at me." For an hour or so he walked up and 
down through the chapel of the Bastile in unbroken 
silence. Then the paroxysm again came on him : 
he laughed, he wept, he prayed, he swore. At 
length the fatal hour arrived. A scaffold had been 
erected in the court of the Bastile. The Chan- 
cellor presented himself at the door of the chapel. 
Biron followed him mechanically to the foot of the 
scaffold. His eye wandered over the soldiers that 
were drawn up around. " Won't you oblige me," 
he said to them, " by sending a musket-ball through 
my body? Oh, to die so miserably, by such a 
shameful stroke ! " His eye fell upon the execu- 
tioner. " Don't touch me ! " he exclaimed, " I won't 
be bound. I will die free." He was told that he 
must kneel. "jSo," he said, "I will die standing, 
as Yespasian counselled. If you can't cut me down 
in one stroke, take thirty ; I will stand as quiet as 
an owl." He ascended the scaffold ; a handker- 
chief was handed him ; he bound it round his eyes, 
and bent. Then springing up, he tore the cover- 
ing from his eyes. Then he asked Barenton, 
one of his own servants, to bind the handkerchief; 
across his eyes once more. Once more he tore it 
off, exclaiming, " O Heaven, let me gaze upon the 
sky once more !" The headsman spoke to him. 


He glared at him and his attendants with fury in 
his eyes. " Don't touch me while there's life in 
my body ; if you provoke me, I'll strangle the 
half of you, and force the other half to kill me." 
A third time the handkerchief was re-adjusted, and 
he knelt. " Quick, quick ! " he said, and again was 
rising, wlien the sword-stroke fell. The head re- 
bounded from the scaffold and rolled out among 
the horrified spectators. 

It was a warning that many of the great nobles 
needed, and it spared Henry the necessity of giving 
another of the kind during the remainder of his 
reign. The ten years from 1600 to 1610 were 
years of tranquillity, and gave to Henry the oppor- 
tunity he had so ardently longed for of restoring and 
regenerating France. In doing so difficulties had to 
be faced, and labors undergone, requiring greater 
courage and greater talent than were called for in 
the most arduous campaigns ; and it gives one no 
slight idea of the far-sightedness, the versatility, the 
many-sidedness, the boundless activity of Henry of 
Navarre, that he, to whom from the age of fifteen 
the stir and strife of war had been as the breath of 
life, the battle-plain the field of glory, who had been 
present at 300 sieges, taken part in nearly 200 lesser 
combats, been commander-in-chief in three great 
pitched battles, should now, at the age of forty-six, 
have turned himself to the task of the reformer, 
the administrator, the legislator, and the politician, 
and should, in that new field of effort, have won 

HEXRY IV. 331 

for himself a higher place among those monarchs 
of France who have conferred great civil and social 
benefits on their country, than his sword had won 
for him among her warrior-kings. The Memoirs 
of Sully had already supplied large evidence of 
this, bearing, however, the impression that it was 
to the great minister more than to the great mon- 
arch that the result was due. Recent researches, 1 
and the publication of his own letters, have pre- 
sented this side of Henry's character in new and 
fuller light, and taught us to regard him as one of 
the wisest legislators and ablest politicians who ever 
filled an European throne, understanding far better 
than even Sully did what were the true and per- 
manent foundations on which the peace and pros- 
perity of this country should be based. 

I can do little more now than allude to the impor- 
tant services which during these years of peace Hen- 
ry rendered to France. The first thing that the King 
and his Ministers took in hand was the regulation 
of the public revenue. The yearly expenditure had 
been exceeding the yearly income, till at last the 
returns showed an annual deficit of about 7,000,000 

1 Histoire du Regne de Henri IV. Par M. A. Poirson, 
Ancien Proviseur des Lycees Saint Louis et Charlemagne, 
Conseiller honoraire de l'Universite. Paris, 1856. 3 vols. 

Henri IV. et sa Politique. Par Charles Mercier de La- 
combe. Paris, 1860. 

Histoire de France. Par Henri Martin. Tome x. Paris, 


of livres, while the national debt had risen from 
43,000,000 to 368,000,000. In the course of these 
ten years that debt was reduced by 327,000,000 hav- 
ing been paid off. Without any new burdens being 
imposed, and while many old ones had been light- 
ened, the annual receipts were increased, and the 
annual expenditure diminished, so as to throw the 
balance on the other side, and instead of a deficit to 
show a clear annual surplus of 8,000,000. Of still 
greater importance than a mere right handling of 
the existing financial resources, was the stimulus 
given by the Government to agriculture, trade and 
commerce, the perennial and permanent sources of 
national wealth. Impoverished, loaded with debt, 
exposed to all kinds of oppression and extortion, 
liable to have their persons, their cattle, their imple- 
ments of husbandry arrested, the peasantry of France 
had sunk into a wretched condition in the course of 
the civil wars. One-third of the land was out of 
cultivation, and such cultivation as there was, of the 
rudest and most ineffective kind. In the midst of 
this general depression and neglect of the art of hus- 
bandry, a gentleman of Languedoc had for years 
given his attention to the theory and practice of ag- 
riculture. Henry heard of Oliver de Serres, and of 
his model farm at Pradel. He sent for him to 
Paris, encouraged him to embody the results of his 
experience in a volume dedicated to the King, and 
entitled Theatre d? Agriculture. For three or 
four months after its publication the King devoted 

HENRY IV. 333 

half-an-hour each day after dinner to the reading 
of this book, and did every thing he could to have 
it widely circulated throughout the country. Vig- 
orous measures were taken to protect the tillers 
of the soil ; the existing arrears of taxes were re- 
mitted, the arrest for debt ot their cattle and in- 
struments of husbandry prohibited, the land-tax, 
which lay heavy upon them, was lightened, the 
legal rate of interest was lowered, and every en- 
couragement was given to capital being advanced 
to them. Blessed with peace, protected in their 
labor, eased in imposts, directed to new and better 
methods of cultivation, the farmers of France set 
themselves heartily to work, and in a few years so 
added to the annual produce of the country that it 
became at last more than equal to meet all home 
demands. Watching with an intelligent eye this 
movement, Henry at last threw open the ports, and 
proclaimed a free traffic outwards both for the grain 
and wines of France. Another volume on the re- 
generation of manufactures in France had been 
dedicated to Henry by Barthelemy Laffemas. 
Among other proposals of its author was the intro- 
duction of the silk manufacture into France, hitherto 
confined to warmer climates. It was said that there 
were many districts in France in which the mul- 
berry-tree, which furnished the food of the silk- 
worm, would flourish. To test the statement, Henry 
ordered 20.000 young mulberry -trees to be sent to 
Paris, and had them planted in the gardens of the 


Tuileries and of Fontaineblean. Houses were built 
in the royal gardens for the feeding of the silk- 
worms, and skilful hands were brought from Italy 
to teach the Frenchmen how to extract the silk. 
The experiment was eminently successful. The 
raw material thus produced was found equal to the 
finest foreign silk. A royal ordinance was issued 
that ia every diocese of the land a nursery of 50,- 
000 young mulberry -trees should be formed.^ Every 
inducement was held out to capitalists and skilled 
workmen engaging in the silk manufacture, and so 
the first impulse was given to a branch of industry 
that now yields above 300,000,000 francs annually 
to France. Other manufactures were not over- 
looked. It is to Henry that the Gobelin manufac- 
tory at Paris owes its origin. The greatest atten- 
tion was bestowed on roads and bridges, tolls and 
pontages, so as to increase the facilities of inland 
transit. The idea that the North Sea and the 
Mediterranean might be connected by a series of 
canals uniting some of the chief rivers of France, 
had been broached in the reign of Francis I., but 
nothing had been done to realize it. Henry took 
the idea up, and set about its accomplishment, 
calling on the pen of the great scholar, Joseph 
Scaliger, one of his literary proteges, to write a 
learned discourse upon the junction of the seas. 
As compared with Holland, England, and Spain, 
France was weak upon the ocean, and had few col- 
onies abroad. Her foreign commerce was but 

HENRY IV. 335 

limited. It was one of the great objects of Henry's 
ambition to make her as powerful at sea as upon 
land. The first steps were taken to create a power- 
ful navy. Commercial treaties were negotiated 
with England, Spain, and other foreign lands. In 
160-1, letters-patent were issued incorporating a 
company for trading with the East Indies, similar 
to those established at Amsterdam in 1594, and in 
London in 1600. Expeditions for maritime dis- 
covery and for colonization were fitted up. The 
great lakes of North America were for the first 
time made known to Europe. A French colony 
settled in Canada, and laid the foundation thereof 
the cities of Quebec and Montreal. 

For all that Henry did in remodelling the mili- 
tary establishments of France, his introduction of 
the modern system of warfare, his establishment 
of military schools and military hospitals, the pro- 
gress in the art of fortification that he effected, 
for all that he did in fostering those institutions 
devoted to the protection of life and promotion of 
public health, his abolition of the practice of duel- 
ling, his widening and improving the streets of 
Paris, his reconstruction and enlargement of LTHotel 
Dieu, his founding of the hospitals of St. Marcel, 
St. Louis, and De la Charite his quadrupling, in 
fact, the number of such hospitals in France, for 
all he did to encourage literature, science, and the 
fine arts, his remodelling of the University of Paris, 
his establishment and endowment of new professor- 


ships, his placing in the chairs so instituted such 
men as Joseph Scaliger and Isaac Casaubon, his 
foundation of the Bibliotheque Royal e, one of the 
first libraries in Europe, for all, in fact, that during 
these ten years this great Prince did to develop the 
resources, to stimulate the industries, to increase 
the commerce, to reform the institutions, to en- 
lighten and refine and so elevate the condition of 
the people of France, we refer the reader to the 
second and third volumes of Poirson's exhaustive 
work ; enough to say that in no other ten years of 
her history did France make so large a stride on- 
ward in the path of prosperity and civilization a 
stride that she was mainly helped and encouraged 
to take by the genius and example of her ruler. 

It was however in the domain of foreign politics 
that Henry exhibited the acuteness and comprehen 
siveness of his genius, and his marvellous powers 
of contrivance, combination, execution. The house 
of Austria, embracing both its German and Spanish 
branches, had lapsed into comparative inaction on 
the death of Philip II. It had not renounced how- 
ever its great and cherished scheme of a universal 
monarchy, involving the destruction of the national 
independence and the religious liberties of all the 
other nations of Europe. It waited but the time 
when, released from its existing difficulties, with 
its resources recruited, it might arm once more that 
half of Europe which was under its control, and 
employ it in the execution of this enterprise. The 

HENRY IV. 337 

great political project, to the maturing of which 
Henry IY. devoted his untiring energies for the 
last years of his life, was the bringing of the other 
half of Europe into close political alliance, and 
arming it against the house of Austria, and striking 
when the fit time came such a blow at the ambition 
and intolerance of that house that it might never 
be able to recover. After innumerable negotiations, 
in which the greatest diplomatic skill was displayed 
by the king himself and the many ambassadors and 
political agents whom he employed, he had suc- 
ceeded in forming a coalition of twenty separate 
States, embracing England, the united Provinces, 
Denmark, Sweden, Northern Germany, Switzer- 
land. At last the time for action came. The Duke 
of Geves died, 25th March 1609. The succession 
was disputed. One of the claimants of the Dukedom 
was supported by the Emperor, another by the 
Protestant Princes of Germany. The contest 
about a small German Duchy presented the oppor- 
tunity for bringing into action that alliance which 
Henry had planned and perfected. In the great 
military movements that were projected he was 
himself to take the lead. Four French armies, 
numbering 100,000, were to be launched against 
the great enemy of European liberty. One of these 
Henry was to command ; even our young Prince 
of Wales was to bring 6000 English with him, and 
make his first essay in arms under the French King. 
By the end of April 1610, 35,000 men and 50 pieces 


of cannon had assembled at Chalons. The 20th 
May was fixed as the day on which Henry was to 
place himself at its head- The fire of earlier days 
was once more kindled in his heart. He had long 
had a presentiment, however, that his life was not 
to be a long one ; and on the eve of every important 
crisis his fears revived. " I don't know how it is," 
he said to Bassompiere, " but I can't persuade myself 
that I shall ever get to Germany." He longed to be 
in the midst of his gallant soldiers, where he knew 
that all these fears would be scattered to the winds 
One thing alone detained him the consecration ol 
the Queen. 1 She was urgent that the ceremony 
should be gone through before he left. Henry ex- 
ceedingly disliked the idea. " Ah, my friend," he 
said to Sully, " how this consecration galls ; accursed 
consecration, you will be the cause of my death ! " 
The idea somehow had struck him that he would 
never get out of Paris, and that he would die in a 
carriage. Sully advised him to put off the cere- 
mony, and to leave Pans immediately on horse- 
back. He yielded to the entreaties of the Queen. 
On Thursday, the 13th of Muy, she was consecrated 
at St. Denis. Her public entry into Paris was 
fixed for the 16th, and on the 18th Henry was to 
depart for Chalons. On the morning of the 16th 
he went to mass. Coming out of the church, he was 
joined by some of his courtiers, with whom he was 

1 Marie de Medicis. 

henry rv. 339 

talking with his usual sprightliness. One of them 
happened to compliment Henry on the grace of 
his pleasantry. A deep sadness at once succeeded 
to the mirth. " Ah ! " said he, " you don't know 
me as I am ; but I shall die one of these days, and 
when you have lost me you will then know my 
worth, and the difference that there is between me 
and other men." Bassompiere remonstrated with 
him about vexing his faithful subjects by speaking 
about dying when surrounded with such prosperity. 
" My friend," said Henry, sighing, " we must leave 
all that." All forenoon he was sad and restless. 
After dinner he retired to his cabinet, but he could 
not write. He threw himself on his bed, but he 
could not sleep. He rose and went forward to the 
window, striking his hand upon his forehead, 6aying, 
" My God ! there is something within that troubles 
me Badly." He walked up and down the room, then 
threw himself again upon the bed, and was heard to 
be engaged in prayer. Rising quickly, he inquired 
what hour it was. He was told it was four o'clock. 
" Sire," said the person who told him, " you are sad, 
would you not be the better of going out and enjoy- 
ing a little of the fresh air ? " The King caught at 
the idea, and ordered his carriage. Twice, when it 
was at the door, he went back to the Queen : " Ma 
mie, shall I go or shall I not go ? " She entreated 
him to remain ; but he went. Five or six noblemen 
went with him in the carriage ; but when Vitry, the 
ca x tain of the guard, asked whether he should attend 


him with a company of his men "Ko," said the 
King, " I will guard myself." The carriage was an 
open one. Henry sat next to its left hand door, hav- 
ing the Duke of Epernon sitting beside him on his 
right hand, and the Duke of Montbazon sitting im- 
mediately opposite. They drove down the Rue St. 
Hohore, and turned into the narrow street La Fer- 
ronnerie. They met two conveyances in this street, 
and the royal carriage had to draw up for a few 
moments close in upon some shops erected against 
the walls of the church of St. Innocent. The King 
had turned round, and was speaking to the Duke 
of Epernon, having his left hand upon the shoulder 
of the Duke of Montbazon, leaving thus his left side 
exposed, when a man, who unnoticed had been 
watching and following the carriage since it left the 
Louvre, glided between the shops and the carriage, 
raised himself quickly by putting one foot on the 
curb-stone and the other on a spoke of the carriage- 
wheel, and with a sharp two-edged knife struck 
twice at the King in the region of the heart. He 
uttered a feeble cry. "What is it, Sire?" said 
Montbazon. " Nothing nothing," was the answer, 
and Henry sank dead upon the seat. They buried 
him amid a nation's tears. And France might truly 
weep over his grave. For if ever she had a sove- 
reign to whom her well-being was dear, and who 
lived and labored to promote it if ever she had 
a monarch upon her throne that was every inch a 
Frenchman if ever king of hers incarnated that 

HEXRY IV. 341 

love of gayety and glory for which as a nation she 
is so distinguished, it was Henry IY. Two centuries 
and a half have passed since they buried him, yet it 
is said that even now were he to rise from the grave 
there is not a village in France in which he would 
not instantly be recognized. The light and springy 
figure, the loose and easy gait, the oval countenance, 
the beaming blue eye, the ruddy sunburned cheek, 
the long peaked nose, the salient chin, the curly 
gray beard, the bushy eyebrow, the arched and 
lofty forehead, would tell them who he was. 

It has been the chief events in Henry's reign 
rather than the features of his personal character, 
or the incidents of his private and domestic life, 
that I have endeavored in these lectures to trace. 
As a soldier and as a ruler we can think of him 
with unmingled admiration. As soldier he is per- 
fect. !Not a great tactician like Parma, nor a great 
military genius like Marlborough, nor a great gen- 
eral like ^Napoleon, but above them in that fiery 
dash of fearless, gay, impetuous valor, which pass- 
ed like an electric flash into the ranks he led, and 
guided them to victory. In a land where military 
courage was so common, and carried to such a 
height, he wore and deserved the title of the brav- 
est of the brave. As humane as he was courage- 
ous, his military renown is unstained with a single 
deed of cruelty. 

It is but seldom that a soldier of Henry's type is 
as great in the cabinet as on the battle-field. But it 


was so with liim. The result of all recent researches 
into the domestic and foreign administration of his 
reign is to place him in the very highest rank as a 
wise and able ruler a subtle and expert politician. 
Many of those speculations about the future political 
ordering of Europe, in which, during his later years, 
he was so fond of indulging, were certainly Utopian ; 
but many, indeed the most important, of them have 
since been realized ; nor was any man so capable of 
and so fond of speculation as he proved himself to 
be, ever less under the influence of theory in the 
field of action the same eye that wandered over 
the region of the conceivable being so quick to 
discern what alone should be attempted and what 
could actually be carried out. He died on the 
very eve of the execution of that great design that 
for years he had been maturing. There can be 
but little doubt that had he lived a few years 
longer Europe would have been saved that Thirty 
Years' War through which she afterwards had to 
pass. Her movement onwards toward that con- 
dition of a well-regulated equilibrium among the 
great powers, in which were guarded the liberties 
of individual States, would by a century at least 
have been accelerated. 

It is as a man that we have the greatest diffi- 
culty in adjusting our estimate of Henry. There 
is such a fascination, such a seductiveness about 
his irrepressible vitality and humanity his spark- 
ling wit, his ready repartee, his piquant but genial 

HENRY IV. 343 

raillery, his imperturbable, inexhaustible, glorious 
good-humor, that we forget that these laughing 
eves are never off the watch, that behind that free 
and easy, most degage mien and manner, there is 
a subtlety and a selfishness that keeps in constant 
view the ends he is pursuing, and never loses the 
opportunity of advancing them. By that jovial 
bonhommie, in itself so natural and so true, he 
lays a spell on the hearts of men, he wins them to 
him and makes them all his own. He keeps too 
as well as he wins most affectionate and generous 
in all his intercourse with them; but he turns 
them all to his own uses, and if any of them cease 
to be serviceable, or should begin to thwart him, 
he contents himself with discarding them ; incapa- 
ble of revenge, but as devoid, perhaps as incapable, 
of any deep and lasting gratitude ; the pleasantest 
of all companions, but not the truest of all friends. 
Strange mixture here, but one not altogether so 
rare, of that free outgoing sociality and amiability 
of disposition which delights in being happy for 
the time with others, and in making others happy, 
in pleasing and being pleased, with a refined and 
concentrated, a cool, a calculating, often a heart- 
less self-regard. The only shrine at which we see 
Henry sacrificing his self-interest was the shrine 
of self-indulgence. There it was, in that unbridled 
taste for self-gratification, that his great weakness 
lay. He knew it so well himself, was so ready to 
acknowledge it, that we find ourselves more than 


half disarmed in censuring. We cannot help lik- 
ing even when we condemn ; for there wanted but 
in this man the power of self-restraint, the deep 
conviction of duty, a conscience toward God, to 
'have made him not only one of the greatest of 
sovereigns, but one of the greatest and most lova- 
ble of men. 


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